What book character doesn't eat, drink or breathe... no, it's not a vampire!

Laguna Beach
If you guessed the 'setting' of a story, you're right!

When I read a book, I love an earthly setting. Foreign lands are magical. Beautiful old buildings, lush landscapes, and of course dazzling coastlines whisk me away and into the story. I know many of you love reading or creating fantasy worlds, sci-fi galaxies, and lands filled with magical creatures and demons. Those are fun and give you a lot of latitude to imagine or create them.

But I'm more of a real-world woman, so when Poppy (my heroine) developed in my mind, she had to be transplanted to one of my favorite places in Southern California. Laguna Beach in Orange County. If you're not from this area you may have a stereotyped idea of California, or think of Disneyland, tech companies, or multi-million dollar mansions. All those exist but Laguna feels like another world to me. Beautiful hidden beaches, arts festivals, and a cool old town village all combine to transport you to a different world, yet still reality.

Many books I read use a facsimile of a real place, but change the name and create fictional aspects like stores, roads, vintage houses, and tea houses. In 'On the Cusp' I went half in for reality. So, readers who are familiar with the area enjoy recognizing places they've visited. It's tricky though for the writer. No business wants to be the site of a murder. And secret beaches are best kept secret to preserve their beauty. 

In book one I also provide a bar and some restaurants that are similar to what exists, or more often what I wish existed. Like Pete's Beach Bar. Before you ask, sadly it doesn't exist. But if you find one in the area that resembles it, please let me know and I'll happily meet you there for a Pacifico and some tacos! And a chat with a cool bartender like Dan would make my day.

For readers, let me ask...
  • What kind of setting increases your love of a book? Cozy and British mysteries seem to go for small towns, crime dramas in big cities, romance maybe a ranch or rural setting?
  • If you decided to write a book, would you set it in a place you know well, or some far-away place you'd love to go? Or perhaps a space station or faraway fantasy world?
  • Does a book cover with an image of the setting attract or detract from your interest in buying a book?
For writers, let me ask...
  • How do you decide on your setting? Do you follow a genre trope, a real place, or something inspired by your story idea or characters?
  • If you envision a real place, how much do you change the details to fit your story?
  • How do you research your setting? If it's not local, do you travel or just Google it? 
The photo is courtesy of Karen Walker, on a perfect Laguna Beach summer day. It's taken from Heisler Park looking south toward Main Beach. Who wouldn't want to enjoy reading a book set in this magical place? Visit my 'Book' page for more details on Book One of the Poppy MacKenzie Mysteries.

I'll post this article on my Facebook fan page, so if you want to share your thoughts, feel free to do that in the comment section. 
Facebook: Diana C Pardee Author