Friday, July 03, 2009

Where to Set a Story?

"What is a city but the people?" ~William Shakespeare

A couple of readers asked me yesterday how I decided on Napa Valley for my latest novel. Hmm...that's a good question!

Since I began writing my "One Night" books a few years ago, two things came into play when choosing settings. First, I wanted to use locations I had actually visited. I know, with the Internet these days you can research just about anywhere in the world and get the details you need for a setting. But for me, I write a better story if I can draw upon actual sensory memories. What it looks like through my eyes. What it smells like, feels like to walk down a certain street. What the light looks like when the sun starts to set. Those sorts of things.

The second thing I consider in choosing location is marketing. Yes, it's not the sexiest reason, but there it is. I want to choose areas of the country (and perhaps in time, the world) that appeal to different people and readers. Not just the East Coast. Not just big cities.

So One Night in Boston was my first book, set in a city I knew very well -- then One Night in Memphis, where I spent one crazy night with my best friend after college (still a big city, but in a much different part of the country) -- and then One Night in Napa. In choosing Napa Valley, I wanted someplace in the western part of the U.S., and my husband and I spent time in Napa during our honeymoon, so it was already filled with romantic memories :) It's also a small, sleepy area, which is a nice contrast to the rush of the cities in my other books. Most of this story actually takes place inside a mansion in the hills of Napa, with just a few scenes in the town itself.

What's next? Well, ideas for both One Night in Savannah (South) and One Night in Cleveland(Midwest - and hey, it's the home of rock and roll!) are percolating on the back burner. I also have ideas for a book set on a coast in a haunted lighthouse. And I'm thinking that a trip to London or Paris might be in order sometime, just in the name of research! Why confine my One Night books to this continent, right??

11 comments:

Liza said...

Congrats now on the release on the 21st! I will be ordering my copy on One Night in Napa that day.

Kimberley said...

This is exciting - my birthday is the 23rd ~ almost like an early bday present!

Anonymous said...

One Night in Singapore sounds like an interesting title.
JOYE
JWIsley (at) aol (dot) com

Tamsyn said...

Hi Allie,
I noticed you mentioned the cities as the setting for your books. How about theme parks like Disneyland? or even a cruise? Tamsyn

Cynthia said...

Alison,

Congrats on yet another release. I love the cover. Hot, hot and hot.

Cynthia

chey said...

Congrats on your upcoming release!
chey127 at hotmail dot com

Virginia said...

Congrats on your up and coming new release! This sounds like a great read.

lead[at]hotsheet[dot]com

Shelley Munro said...

Congrats on your upcoming release. I love armchair traveling to places I might not otherwise get a chance to visit. I have actually visited Napa, but I'm ready to go again. The area is beautiful and the wine doesn't hurt either. ;)

Yo said...

LOVE the cover! Can't wait to read it.

Debby said...

What a great insight. Thanks so much

debby236 @ att .net

safina said...

spending the summer in paris so my vote goes to 'one night in paris.' i'll tell you all about it when i get home to the county, last week in july. will you be in the area?