M.M. GornellTalks About Setting as it Applies to Her

Thank you, Marilyn, for hosting me on your blog! As you know, I enjoy reading your books very much—and your writing and promotions activities have been guiding lights for me. So, I’m especially pleased to be here and participating in this Mystery We Write Blog Tour.

I’m also pleased to have the opportunity to talk about setting. As a reader, a key ingredient for my enjoyment of a book (along with characters) is being “taken away.” For example, my favorite author is P.D. James. I just love being transported to her wonderful locations in Britain. And seeing London through the eyes of her protagonist Adam Dagleish (and others) are the most enjoyable reading experiences I’ve ever had.

In my own writing, the first excitement and kernel of an idea for each of my books has come from a location that has reached out, grabbed me, and wouldn’t let go. I know that sounds “over the top,” and it’s not the whole story, but so far, my novels have started because a location said, “Me! Me! Write about me.” From there, my writing goal is to make the location also come alive for the reader. Have them see, taste, smell, hear what’s unique about this particular setting.

I lived in North Bend, WA for a long period of time, in a rural area east of Seattle, WA. While walking my dogs, one particular spot always caught my fancy, and the idea for Uncle Si’s Secret was born on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Then when looking for a new home, my husband and I (and two dogs) lived in the Ridgecrest, CA area, and while house-hunting, there was a particular spot on Interstate 14 we often passed. It was an odd collection of rag-tag dwellings that just seemed to speak to me. That turned out to be the inspiration for Death of a Perfect Man. Then came Reticence of Ravens which was born in the Mojave, maybe a mile down the road from where I live. My inspirations for Lies of Convenience were a tiny building near my local Post Office (also a tiny little building!), and a ramshackle Quonset hut, again down the road a bit. I can say with certainty, Route 66 has “locations” galore begging to be written about and brought “alive” for my readers through my characters eyes and experiences.

Marilyn, it’s been fun posting on your Blog, thanks for the visit!

Madeline (M.M.) Gornell has three published mystery novels—PSWA awarding winning Uncle Si’s Secret (2008), Death of a Perfect Man (2009), and her latest release, Reticence of Ravens (2010)her first Route 66 mystery. Reticence of Ravens is a 2011 Eric Hoffer Fiction finalist and Honorary Mention winner, the da Vinci Eye finalist, and a Montaigne Medalist finalist.

She continues to be inspired by historic Route 66, and has recently completed Lies of Convenience, which hopefully will have a 2011 winter release date. It is a tale that fictionally connects murder, truths untold, and Chicago’s Lake Michigan with California’s high desert on the opposite end of The Mother Road. Madeline is also a potter with a fondness for stoneware and reduction firing. She lives with her husband and assorted canines in the Mojave in a town on internationally revered Route 66.

Madeline’s books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and Smashwords, in paper and e-book formats. You can visit her online at her website http://www.mmgornell.com, or her BLOG http://www.mmgornell.wordpress.com, or email her directly at mmgornell@earthlink.net

Buy link for Reticence of Ravens:

P.S. from Marilyn:
Madeline has become a special friend to me and my husband. We met at a book fair, saw each other again a a mystery conference, then the Public Safety Writers Conference--since then we've been neighbors at book festivals and other places and learned to enjoy one another's company. That's one of the pluses of being a mystery writer.


webpromo said…
Its a very good post. I was very pleased to find this site.
Madeline, I love Route 66 (even the song) and have always dreamed of starting in Chicago and following the route to CA. That's harder to do now than it was, but still possible. Your books sound intriguing. Thanks for sharing.
M.M. Gornell said…
Good morning, Marilyn, research papers, webpromo, and Caroline Clemmons! I thought I was getting here early ready to great everyone--instead, I'm behind the curve. So wonderful to be stopping on our blog tour with Marilyn. I too consider Marilyn and Hap special friends, and very lucky to have met them. I've said it many times before, but I'll mention again--Marilyn is a guiding light for me. I also share a special interest in setting, and am so pleased to have to opportunity to ramble on! Love it...

Jean Henry Mead said…
Madeline, we've traveled Route 66 many times, especially in the Mojave Desert, as recently as July. The route has spawned many legends and I look forward to reading your books.
Jackie King said…
What an interesting post. I loved learning how settings inspired your plots.
WS Gager said…
Madeline: Loved your post about setting speaking to you. I want to visit the Mojave Desert because of your descriptions.
W.S. Gager on Writing
This has been so much fun reading everyone's posts on our virtual tour. I hope everyone has enjoyed it so far and will keep on visiting.

Earl Staggs said…
Madeline, I love your attitude about setting. If the setting doesn't ring true, a story simply doesn't work.
M.M. Gornell said…
Oh Jean, you probably passed my little town, if you blink, you miss it!

Yes, Jackie, it's kind of weird how some places are just special. I hope the world keeps being that way for me.

Your comment makes me feel so good, Wendy. I think the desert is not for everyone, and I'm as surprised as anyone that I like it!

Earl, you are on the mark there. I started a book recently by a best selling author, and I didn't know where I was until halfway through the book. I think the author expected the reader (me to know), but I didn't! Oh well.

I agree, Marilyn, some work involved, but I sure am enjoying our tour!

jenny milchman said…
How interesting that setting triggers things for you.

I really hope to attend PWSA myself--hope our paths might cross!
M.M. Gornell said…
Jenny, if you do go to the PSWA conference (it's a wonderful conference) be sure to grab me and say hello! (I'm a little older and fatter than my picture!) Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said…
Love it when setting becomes a character in the story.

boots9k at wowway dot com
Jenny M. I'd love it if you could make it to PSWA this year.

M.M. Gornell said…
Thanks for visiting, Anonymous, I agree, setting is so important. Glad you stopped by!

Alice Duncan said…
Very interesting about how you get your ideas, Madeline!
Sheila Deeth said…
In my case PD James takes me back, but I know what you mean, and I often choose books because the locations sound so interesting.
M.M. Gornell said…
Thanks, Alice for stopping by. It is interesting hearing how all the authors on tour get there ideas, what their goals are, etc. It's making me think a lot -- uh oh!

Me too, Sheila, about choosing a book because of the setting. For me, it's an integral part of the "escape."

Marja McGraw said…
Madeline, I like that a place can grab you and inspire a story. And I agree that Route 66 can open a lot of doors leading to stories. Great post!
M.M. Gornell said…
Hi, Marja, thanks for visiting. Hope to see you again down the road--LCC or PSWA. And, sure hope I emailed you how much I enjoyed Old Murders Never Die--talk about setting!


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