Welcome Back, Carol Perry

Hi all. I’m overjoyed to welcome back Friend of the Blog Carol Perry. The sixth book in Carol’s Witch City Mystery series has just come out and she has some thoughts about setting–and wardrobe. Take it away, Carol.

Carol will give away a copy of It Takes a Coven to one lucky commenter below.

Release of a new book is always exciting—and the thrill never gets old! It Takes a Coven is Book # 6 in my Witch City Mystery series for Kensington. Thank you, dear Wickeds, for inviting me here today. The story this time involves a brand new kind of a witch hunt in Salem. With witches dropping dead before they even come out of the proverbial broom closet, and thousands of crows darkening the skies, Lee Barrett’s best friend River fears she might have somehow unleashed a terrible curse on the old city. Aided by a talkative crow named Poe and her clairvoyant cat, O’Ryan, Lee sets out to investigate, and finds that casting light on the wicked truth can be one killer commitment!

Carol Perry, Gulfport

Those of us who write cozy mystery series learn with the very first book that the setting of our stories almost becomes one of the characters! Whether the action takes place in Barb’s Busman’s Harbor, Maine, Liz’s Frog Ledge, Connecticut, Cheryl Hollon’s St. Petersburg, Florida, my Salem Massachusetts or Lillian Jackson Braun’s Pickax, Moose County (400 miles north of everywhere,) readers quickly become familiar with each venue . They’ll walk with the people we’ve invented to populate our city/town/island/ along our selection of streets/trails/alleys. They’ll visualize the food in our variety of restaurants/kitchens/food trucks and consider the beverages in the coffee shops/bars/ soda fountains we choose for them.

They’ll know the names of our protagonist’s favorite shops, how she’s furnished her house/apartment/cottage, and just where the library/movie theater/art gallery/school is located. Hopefully, after a while, our readers will see our fictional locale the way we do.

Those of us who have set our stories in real places have the freedom to insert buildings/parks/rivers where there actually aren’t any, while those who’ve invented make-believe places are free to pop real buildings/parks/rivers into the manuscript any way they like. One of the joys of writing fiction is the freedom to move people, places and things around in time and space however we choose! In the Witch City books I use real streets and real places like the Hawthorne Hotel, the Salem Willows, Dube’s, Gulu-Gulu, Crow Haven—however, there is no WICH-TV, (But shouldn’t there be?) There is no Trumbulls Department Store either. (It’s based on Brown’s of Gloucester where I was ad manager long ago.)

Of course we get to dress our characters too. (Lee Barrett likes vintage jewelry, designer handbags and all the shoes and boots she can afford.) That got me thinking about a recent invitation to speak about writing to local women’s club later this month. It’s their annual Book Luncheon and everyone is asked to come as a favorite book character. Should I borrow Jesse’s hat and go as Beryl? Don apron, cap and black bag and be Edith’s wonderful Rose Carroll? Get a giant magnifying glass and be Nancy Drew? I think I’ve decided on Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone’s trademark black turtleneck and jeans. Easy. I won’t have to buy or borrow anything!

Readers: How important is the setting of the book to you? Writers: Please tell us about your selection of settings. Or just say hi for a chance to win a copy of It Takes a Coven.

46 Thoughts

  1. Good morning!

    In my opinion, it’s the details of location, dress, personalities, etc. that make a book welcoming. It lets you step into the book, to get to know the people in the story and to fell as if you are walking among them as a friend or fellow patron of the town and not just reading a book.

    Can’t wait for the opportunity to read ” It Takes a Coven”. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  2. It’s so true about setting, Carol. Welcome to the front of the blog! That luncheon sounds so fun. You’d be welcome to borrow Rose’s (that is, my) Quaker dress and bonnet if you lived closer.

    1. I often wish I lived closer to the Wickeds so we could visit together. I just don’t wish for the cold weather! I like the book character idea for the luncheon too, and look forward to it.

  3. Salem is a great place to use as a setting. I’ve always used real places, because it’s too much work to create–and more important, remember–a setting that works for you. That way the actual buildings suggest ideas for the plot, rather than the other way around. And I can take pictures, which help refresh my memory. The only problem is when shops or homes or other buildings are torn down or changed in the real place (wait a minute–when did you build a new library? and where did you put the police station?).

    1. I use Google Earth a lot to be sure I don’t send Lee down a one-way street the wrong way. I’ve already run into the closing of Lee’s favorite restaurant!

  4. Welcome back! I picked a place I loved for the Sarah Winston books — Bedford, Massachusetts and then fictionalized it for the books.

  5. I have mostly worked with real places in my writing, but I make up addresses and businesses (especially when not-so-legal things happen there).

    1. I’ve made up some too. That’s part of the fun in writing fiction. I really picture those places as actually being where I put them in the books!

  6. Location is important to any book as it helps set the scene for the plot and characters. I enjoy descriptive information about the location. As the story progresses, you can easily imagine the backdrop.

  7. First of importance to me in a book is the development of the main character in the book. Of course in order to make a character believable, you need to have a developed background that provides the reader more information of who the main character is. Thanks for including Carol Perry and her latest book on your blog.

  8. Where the action takes place is sort of important. It has to be an interesting place where the mix of characters make the town either welcoming or not. We actually planned last years vacation so that we’d end up spending two days in Salem. I own the first 4 books and always look forward to the getting the next book to add to my home library.

    With over 2000 books in my collection I make sure that I have books from every genre so that I don’t get too jaded in my reading. LOL

    NoraAdrienne (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. Hope you found the magical city of Salem everything you thought it would be. We try to visit every year and I still discover new things about it! Thank you for liking the books!

      1. We spent 2 days in the Museum trying to visit every nook and cranny. We’ll have to back again to really do it right. We also found the only Kosher Restaurant in Salem. A Middle Eastern place that truly rocked.

  9. I must admit that setting isn’t something I pay close attention to when I am starting a new series. However, if the writer makes it come alive for me in the first book, I find myself looking forward to going back each book and smiling when we enter favorite locations for the first time in each book. So, it definitely helps make a favorite series a favorite series.

  10. The settings make a lot of the story. In a series, the setting keeps the reader grounded. Familiar with the settings for a book makes the characters feel like friends. I think the settings make the stories more interesting.

  11. Settings really help round out the murder plot & characters. New places are always so much fun to explore.

  12. I need enough detail to give me a feel for a place, but not pages and pages of every minute speck.

  13. It’s always fun to read a book that takes place in a setting you’re familiar with in real life. As for my own books, I have some set in real cities and some in fictional ones. Either way, I often make up places and business.

  14. Settings add so very much to the book; as you note, the setting can practically be a character in its own right. The challenge for an author using a real place is to maintain the authenticity of the area’s character. I find when reading a book set in a place I know well, when the writer captures the layout and the ambience correctly, I connect with the book much more strongly. If they get it wrong, however…

  15. Thanks for visiting, Carol! I love settings and always think of them as a character in books. I love to write about places both real and imagined! I make a point of setting my books in places I love to be since I will spend so much time there in my imagination.

  16. The setting is very important. It helps the reader get immersed in the protagonists’ world.

  17. I’ve just about finished Edith’s Delivering the Truth (and absolutely love it). I’m not really familiar with Amesbury, but her description makes it all very clear. Settings are very important to me. I visualize books as I’m reading. When not enough description is included, I feel lost. One of my favorite imaginary places is Joan Hess’s Maggody. I really move into that town when I’m reading. I love Salem and love well-written books about witches, sentient cats and other animals, and am really looking forward to reading this series (how come I didn’t know about it before?)

  18. Setting is one of the most important components for me in a cozy. I can forgive a plot that has some inconsistencies, or a character that I don’t love as much as I should so long as I love the setting (this is especially important in a series, as it’s not often the case that each book is amazing, but I’m still happy to read the books if the setting is right).

    I am looking forward to reading this book! It’s such a fun series!!! 🙂

    1. I hope my love for Salem comes through. It was a wonderful place to grow up. Mayor KIm Driscoll siad “You live in Florida Carol, but Salem is your forever home!”

  19. I really like descriptions of the setting and the characters of a book. It’s helpful to put it all together in my mind, and puts a face to the characters and a picture of the setting of the book. When reading a series, you can relate to the characters. Looking forward to reading “It Takes A Coven”.

  20. I think settings are important for filling in the background information in the story. That helps to bring the story together. Can’t have any loose ends.

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