Inside Information,  Work-In-Progress,  Writing Journey

Dance of the Setting Fairy, Part Three

Since I’m still working on the same story I was talking about last week, LOL, I wanted to talk a bit about the setting for it, as well as the setting for the upcoming WHISPER.

WHISPER takes place in a futuristic Chicago, though you wouldn’t know it’s slightly futuristic because I ended up ditching the futuristic transportation in lieu of an Uber-like service because it was more flexible than whatever crap I was going to do. Truth be told, Uber and Lyft were unknown to me when I got this idea in 2013.

So, why Chicago? If you’re thinking it’s my favorite city, you would be wrong. I like Chicago, but picked it because I needed a large city and wanted to pick one I’d been to in the summertime. The story takes place in early August. I know what Chicago is like in the middle of summer. I’ve only been to Boston and Baltimore in the fall, which were my other two contenders.

I probably could have set the story in Nashville, but it honestly didn’t even cross my mind. In addition to that, while there are big buildings in downtown Nashville, it’s nothing like the skyline in other metropolitan areas. Chicago most closely matched what I saw in my head and had the closest city vibe to what I was going for. Plus, summers in TN are wicked humid, and who wants to deal with that?

Speaking of my home state though, the current work-in-progress takes place in Franklin and Arrington. Arrington is about 15-20 outside of Franklin, which is about 20 minutes outside of Nashville. Other than a story I started and stopped around 2014, and a handful of more recent ideas that haven’t gotten off the ground yet, I haven’t set a story in my home state since middle school.

Yeah, I know, right?

But when I was younger, I always thought Tennessee was boring. Interesting people lived somewhere else. So I always based my stories somewhere else. Then one day an idea came to me that was set in Arrington. A different idea that’s still in the plot bunny field, but it opened the gate for more TN-based stories, and now I have a basket full of them. Franklin might be my second favorite place to set a story after Asheville, NC.

So, why is the current WIP set in TN? I’ll tell ya. It’s because this story feels like something I’ve dreamed about. It’s giving off some weird deja vu, and I love it. The neighborhood is modeled after the neighborhood I grew up in, though I’m spacing the houses out a little more. In addition, the house my character lives in is a near-exact copy of my neighbor’s house, minus the above ground pool in the backyard. I spent a lot of time in that house, and we used to always tell ghost stories at sleepovers. I don’t remember ever feeling afraid while in the house, but I couldn’t stop picturing it while I was brainstorming this story. Maybe this is a forgotten dream that I had while sleeping over?

Something about it feels very homegrown to me, so Middle TN it is. I didn’t grow up in Arrington, but I’m picking it for the setting because it’s is close to Franklin, which is where my main character works. Franklin has the right vibe for the story, so everything was a nice fit.

I also got to make up companies for a couple of the characters to work for. Main character Artemis works for Voltage Planet, an entertainment magazine. She’s a copyeditor. 😛

The following picture was actually taken at my old apartment during a flood, but look at all the trees!! This is a good example of the landscape I’m dealing with. 🙂


  • Michelle Athy

    Settings are fun! I’ve done Fake Regency London a few times (I’ve never been to England…I’m also not two hundred years old…). Fake Georgian Bristol. Random Georgian England country village. Boston’s fun to write, if only because the old buildings are, well, old, and because I went to college there, so I know it fairly well. But yeah, like you, I haven’t written much set in my hometown. As I’m outlining my series, I’m playing with the idea of New York City as seen by people who’ve moved here for work and maybe they never leave Manhattan or Brooklyn or whatever neighborhood they live in, and New York City as seen by people who grew up here. The perspective is very different.

    But it’s funny when you get a story idea and it has to be set in a place that’s very familiar to you.

    OMG about the TN summer. My cousin got married in Memphis in June ten plus years ago and I will never forget the utter drenched-ness of those few days because of heat and humidity. I mean, we get some nasty humidity in NYC in summer and August is basically hell here, but *that* was a different level of humid.

    • Krystal Jane

      Oh my goodness, the humidity here in August especially is a great way to put yourself in an instant bad mood. >.< Settings really are fun! ^_^ It’s interesting being super close to home. I’m already noticing extra little details creeping in. I think it’s going to be really helpful moving forward. Dude, the architecture in Boston is awesome! I remember that and how impatient the drivers are the most. Lol! Since we have so many new people moving down here, we can always tell who’s used to quicker flowing traffic by how fast they honk at you once the light changes. It’s probably interesting to explore the differences between native and non-native NYCers.

  • Tonja Drecker

    My settings usually have had historical or realistic requirements (such as certain museums or events) to be placed in a certain area, so I haven’t allowed myself too much freedom in that sense. I love doing the research for settings, especially when it’s set at a certain time of year. Most of the places I’ve used, I’ve visited or seen myself. Still, I love using Google Earth to zoom in and take a peek at certain areas of the towns/cities (it feels like spying 🙂 ). Then, I dive into looking up things like vegetation, wildlife, insects, typical food of the area, dress…all sorts of fun. Wouldn’t it be great to just take a week or two off and fly to these places for awhile? Dreaming. . .
    As to humidity. Ugh. One of my latest characters has to deal with that. . .wish I didn’t, though.

    • Krystal Jane

      I wish I could just teleport to wherever I’m setting the story! There’s so much you don’t think to look at. Like when I was Chicago, I remembered the weather because it was so different than I was expecting, but I didn’t really notice the traffic.

      Google Earth is great! And I also appreciate photography so much. When I was brainstorming NRFTW, I found so many videos and pictures and even a detailed map of the cemetery. I wish I had taken a tour one of the times I’d been there, but I didn’t think about. Almost felt like I was there though. ^_^

  • Thea Landen

    If I’m writing in a contemporary setting and can’t get away with being vague, I always make sure to set the story someplace I’ve actually been so I don’t get stuck doing more research than necessary. 😉 Strangely enough, I’ve never specifically set anything in my hometown, though I’ve written about other parts of the state.

    And no, nobody ever wants to deal with humidity. Ever.

    • Krystal Jane

      It’s amazing how much research we have to do over the smallest things. Lol! Unless my setting is super isolated, I try to stay close to places I’ve been, too. It’s just easier on my brain. I was all over the place in the early days though.

  • Jodi Perkins (@Perkjo)

    I think we all do that when we’re younger–assume that where we live is “boring.” It’s not until you’re an adult with more perspective that you realize that your hometown actually has as much character as anyone else’s. I spent half of my childhood and a chunk of my adulthood living in a tiny desert oasis called Silver Lakes. You couldn’t imagine a more dull place. Well last night I watched an episode of Dateline that unraveled an entire shocking murder mystery that centered in Silver Lakes…and it was far from dull! Hearing my own little community being described from an outsider’s perspective was eye-opening. What an interesting and creepy place.

    I love the picture you took from your old apartment! So beautiful and dreary. That would make for such an awesome setting. Using places your familiar with is a great idea, because it lends so much more authenticity to your writing. You know that piece of advice, “Write what you know.”

    • Krystal Jane

      Silver Lakes is a great name for a desert oasis! 🙂

      I think being so familiar with the area is adding little details to the setting that I normally don’t think about. I’m hoping it’ll help for the next time I’m in less familiar territory. But there are definitely a lot of stories I can tell in the area. We have lots of ghost stories here. ^_^

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