September 2021 Featured Article

Where in the World?

Choosing a setting for a novel is great fun and may even become like another character. I usually choose Orange County California because it’s where I live. I know it well and it can be a beautiful and diverse location. I get to select the cities and locations that work well with the story.

For Carmen’s Journey of Courage, Carmen and her family live in Orange County, but there also needed to be another, more distant locale. You can imagine, considering the word journey is in the title. It wouldn’t be much of a journey traveling from say Buena Park to San Clemente (opposite ends of the county), although local commuters will tell you it really is a trip with all the traffic. But I digress.

Mexico City was a natural selection because Carmen’s parents were first generation immigrants from Mexico, and the city is exciting and full of history.

When authors locate a novel in an unfamiliar setting, it is always enjoyable and helpful to travel there. Details are more accurate, and one can absorb the flavor of the location and culture. My daughter-in-law’s parents are from Mexico (although not Mexico City), and I had planned a trip with her to show me the sights. Unfortunately, I couldn’t travel to Mexico because of worldwide events (which shall remain nameless). How sad I was that I couldn’t visit in person.

So, I had to do the next best thing: extensive Internet research and talking to people who have lived there. The photos were exotic and alluring. It was entertaining following Google maps down streets of the San Ángel neighborhood where Tía Graviella’s little hacienda is located, although the hacienda is fictional. I apologize for any inaccuracies caused by not visiting in person.

I love to read books set in places like England and Italy, countries I have always wanted to visit. It’s almost like being there. If it’s historical fiction, I feel like I have been transported in time.

My next two books take place in Orange County, but I’m sorely tempted to change the setting to something more adventurous just so I can travel there.

Hmm. Where should I go?

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