I’m very exctied to welcome author Heather Terrell to the blog! As part of the Fallen Angel blog tour, she stopped by to provide a guest post for the day. In it she discusses how she decides what the setting should be for each book she writes, both past novels and this new release.
Setting the Scene for Your Story.
Most of my books are inspired by a long-standing historical mystery. Since I usually uncover this “inspiration” in the pages of a historical tome or research text, I often find my settings there too. But, I never stop at those pages. No matter how far the destination, I always visit my settings in person to ensure that I capture the look, feel, and even the smells of the place my fictional world will inhabit.
In my first three historical novels, this meant traveling some pretty far distances to some clear-cut settings. The Chrysalis focused on a puzzling seventeenth-century Dutch painting stolen by the Nazis, necessitating a trip to various spots in Europe. The Map Thief revolved around the very first map of the world, requiring visits to China and Portugal. Brigid of Kildare dealt with the original image of the Virgin Mary, mandating a trip to Ireland.
But, my most recent novel, Fallen Angel, presented a slightly different situation. The book addressed the origin of the vampire legend, and could be placed in a variety of locations. I toyed with many sites, but once again, research guided my course.
In my reading about the vampire legend, I kept coming across historical reports about vampire sightings and attacks in eighteenth and nineteenth-century New England. I read about the Rose Family vampire in nineteenth-century Rhode Island who had allegedly turned one of the daughters into a vampire. I learned about the alleged vampire case of Dartmouth College student Frederick Ransom in early nineteenth-century Vermont. I examined the eighteenth-century tale of Rhode Island native Sarah Tillinghast who had purportedly turned vampire and killed her remaining siblings. And these are just a few of the New England stories I uncovered.
I had found my setting for Fallen Angel. Having spent my college and law school years in New England, I knew that the locale bore a slightly haunting, eerie quality, especially in winter and particularly in a remote coastal location. Still, I went back to Boston and the environs to be absolutely certain. As I suspected, it was perfect for my supernatural tale.
So I placed the Fallen Angel in an isolated, coastal town in New England. And I honored my inspiration – those eighteenth and nineteenth century reports of New England vampires – by naming the coastline Ransom Beach
and the town Tillinghast, Maine.
Thanks so much for this awesome post! It’s always interesting to see how authors figure out where to set their stories.
Be sure to check out Fallen Angel, available now! And go to The Teen Book Scene for the rest of the tour! I’ll also be posting a book review on February 9th.