Our Book Club Friday guest author today is Caridad Pineiro, a multi-published, award-winning author who writes in a variety of genres, including romance, chick lit, and paranormal romantic suspense. Last year Sins of the Flesh, the first book in Caridad's paranormal romantic suspense Sin series was released. Stronger Than Sin is the second book in the series. Caridad has kindly offered a copy of Sins of the Flesh to one of our readers who posts a comment to the blog this week. You can read more about Caridad at her website and her blog. -- AP
Paranormal novels are dark, edgy and dangerous, so what better place to set one of those novels than the Jersey Shore.
Wait, rewind. Did you just say the Jersey Shore? The real Jersey Shore (and not the show that shall not be named) with the beautiful beaches, quaint towns and historic locations?
Yes, I did set a dark, edgy and action-packed paranormal suspense novel against that sun-drenched locale because it gives me an opportunity to give readers something other than what they expected in a paranormal suspense novel. Many paranormals and romantic suspense novels are set in and around urban areas and because of that, the locations sometimes have a similar feel. Changing that up opens up new vistas for readers, but also creates new opportunities as a writer.
In fact, using different and interesting locations will often act as another character in the story. Writers can not only transport readers to a new place, but juxtapose elements of the story against those backdrops. For example, in the SINS series, the beauty of the beaches is set against the wildness of the Pine Barrens and the dark tunnels in Fort Hancock in SINS OF THE FLESH. It is in a home near the beach where the heroine reclaims her life while almost losing it in the darkness of the Pine Barrens and tunnels.
Locations can also be used to provide subtle backstory. In STRONGER THAN SIN, the hero is literally from the “wrong” side of the tracks and has had to work hard to create a life that provides him the income to purchase one of the luxurious oceanfront homes. The railroad tracks that run through the various shore towns create not only a physical barrier, but a social one as well.
What else can you achieve by using a different or unexpected location? How about exposing your readers to new foods and customs for that locale?
In doing research for the SINS series, I’ve discovered quite a number of “down the shore” things to do and I’ve included some of them in the novels. Some of my favorite “down the shore” things are:
- Ice cream from Days in Ocean Grove or frozen custard from Kohrs.
- Tomato pies from Vic’s or Pete and Elda’s. Don’t confuse them with pizza, because they are quite different.
- Long strolls along the boardwalks. Each one has its unique flavor and my favorites are in Asbury Park, Bradley Beach and Ocean Grove.
- Explore the tent city in Ocean Grove.Sit outside the Auditorium or Stone Pony and listen to the music spilling from within these historic icons.
If you’re an aspiring author, you may be wondering, “But what if I can’t visit that location?”
The Internet is a marvelous thing, but there is one adage that really is true at times: Write what you know.
Look around you. Think of the places you have visited and the memories you’ve created. There is something about having been to a place that lets you add all kinds of details that will ring true with readers. Take advantage of those personal experiences to improve your story.
“But what if where I live isn’t all that interesting?” Think of stories like THE STEPFORD WIVES, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, or the many Debbie Macomber novels set in small towns. As a writer you can make any location interesting for your readers by using your imagination.
Thanks for taking the time to stop by! I hope you’ll like the “down the shore” locations and I’d love to hear from you as to what kinds of locales you like to see in your novels.
Thanks, Caridad! This Jersey girl knows those areas well. Readers, what do you think about setting stories in unexpected locales? Post a comment to be entered in the drawing for Sins of the Flesh, and don't forget to check back tomorrow to see if you're the winner. -- AP