Kiss Me, Kill Me – It’s All About Location!

When working with a location in your novel, it’s important to keep in mind a number of things:

1. The tone of the book: Where you set your novel can have an obvious impact on the overall atmosphere of the work. A centuries-old inn on a rocky and foggy New England coast may be better for establishing a gothic feel than the glittering streets of Miami. On the other hand, setting a novel in an unexpected locale, like Miami for a vampire story, may be provide novel ways for you to expand a mythology or create an alternate world.

2. Roadways and the native lingo: My husband just finished a book and said to me that it was obvious the writer was not a New Yorker, although apparently the main character in the book was supposed to be a New Yorker. How did hubby know that? The writer made references to roadways in a manner in which natives would not. For example, a reference to 95 when coming off the George Washington Bridge (aka the “GW” to a native). While it may be 95 on the map, most natives would equate that road with heading to the Turnpike (aka the New Jersey Turnpike). Another one to watch out for if you’re writing about New York City (aka Manhattan), Avenue of the Americas is the official name for 6th Avenue, but it’s rare for a New Yorker to call it Avenue of the Americas.

3. Foods: Food can add a great deal of color to your novel. For example, a reference to “tomato pie” would be appropriate for certain settings in New Jersey. What’s “tomato pie” you wonder? It’s a type of pizza and common in many areas (but not in New York City where it’s not common to refer to “pizza” as “tomato pie”). The reference is more common along the Jersey Shore and in Trenton, which is famous for its “tomatoe pie”. In the shore and Trenton areas, “tomato pie” is usually a thin crust pizza where the cheese goes on first and then the sauce.

4. Media attention: It sounds sanguine, but deciding where to set your story may help with getting media attention for your work. A local author setting a novel in a hometown location: Perfect for getting the attention of the local newspaper, community groups, etc. and setting up signings.

5. Local Customs and Superstitions: When choosing a location (or creating your own), are there any local customs or superstitions that you can include? A haunted house or site of buried treasure? A tale about the town’s founding or history? For example, while researching the area of the Jersey Shore where I’ve set SINS OF THE FLESH and STRONGER THAN SIN, I discovered that Captain Kidd anchored off what is now known as Sylvan Lake in Bradley Beach and buried part of his treasure between two trees near what is now known as Brinley Avenue. You can bet that will make it’s way into a book someday!

I hope these things help you with choosing and working with the location in your novel.

Thoughtful Thursday – New York Minutes

Copyright Leifern Used Under Creative Commons LicenseI love New York City and I guess by New York City I mean the island of Manhattan. It’s one of the big reasons I decided to set THE CALLING vampire series in Manhattan — I wanted to give you a flavor for the different parts of the city. If you’ve been reading the books, you know that the stories move from Tribeca to SoHo to Spanish Harlem. In future books in the series (ARDOR CALLS and VENGEANCE CALLS – dates of release to be known shortly), you’ll see shots of Midtown and Times Square.

I thought I’d share on these Thursdays some little known facts about Manhattan and also about some of the Jersey Shore locations in the SINS series.

Today’s New York Minute is about Sixth Avenue also known as Avenue of the Americas. Much like hearing someone say Houston St. (like the city in Texas) instead of like “Howston”, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist if you say Avenue of the Americas. It’s also very confusing since most New Yorkers call it Sixth Avenue.

The problem began in 1945 when Fiorella LaGuardia, one of the city’s most beloved mayors, renamed Sixth Avenue. In the years since then, the lamp posts bore plaques donated by the OAS – Organization of American States to symbolize each of the countries in the Americas. I remember seeing them as a kid whenever we came into “the city” for some event. Unfortunately, the plaques were lost when the city put in new lamp posts in the early 1990s.

Forgotten NY has wonderful shots of these plaques. You can click here to see the Sixth Avenue country plaques.

There are also a number of statues all along Sixth Avenue to honor famous people from the Americas. From the western most edge of Bryant Park (also along Sixth) to where Sixth runs into Central Park, there are gorgeous bronzes to be admired. This is a statue of Jose Marti, a leader for Cuban Independence from Spain. The statue sits at the entrance to Central Park on Sixth Avenue.

In the Public Domain

Above Central Park, Sixth Avenue once again changes names, this time to Lenox Avenue/Malcolm X Boulevard, also creating confusion with the use of two names!

Beneath Sixth Avenue run a number of things –The IND Sixth Avenue subway lines (B D F V trains) as well as the PATH Trains to New Jersey. As for how long Sixth Avenue is — it’s one of the longest in the city running from as far south as Canal Street at the southernmost part of Manhattan up through Harlem.

Want to know more? You can read more about Sixth Avenue by clicking here and visiting Forgotten NY!