[**EDITED: CONTEST WINNER ANNOUNCED: The numbers have been crunched and the winner is : TracyW who said...
"Karen Marie Moning's Fever series is set in Ireland, but the main character is from Georgia. I have visited both places, so when she talkes about them in the books it makes feel very connected." TracyW, please email me at JocelynnDOTdrakeATgmailDOTcom with your name and address to claim your prize**}
Despite the fact that I’ve been a Cincinnati, Ohio native my entire life, Savannah sings to my heart as a second home due to my research for my Dark Days series. One frequent question that I am asked is why I chose to set Mira’s (my main character) home in Savannah, Georgia of all places? Well, in truth, the series wasn’t originally written in Savannah. It was actually set in Cincinnati, Ohio, because that was my hometown! What better place than the one I had known since I was a small child. I knew its secrets, its little townships, and some of the best hidden landmarks. Unfortunately, by the time that I was being published, there was another well-known author who had already based her series in Cincinnati.
So, my loving editor told me that I had to pick a new home for Mira and her gang. I started the search in the places that I felt most familiar. I was considered a “Southern” girl, so I preferred to remain somewhat in the south with a modest sized city since it was what I knew. Listing out the cities that had been used already, I knew that St. Louis and New Orleans were out, since other series had set up shop in those regions. I scanned the coast considering that my old vampire probably came to the New World via ship. My search caught on Charleston and Savannah. After seeing some pictures and hearing that it was named one of the most haunted cities in the United States, Savannah won.
I’ve never regretted the choice.
In fact, I was surprised when the city started to take on a life of its own as I started working on the fourth book in the Dark Days series (Pray for Dawn). Prior to the fourth book, my characters stayed on the move, traveling to Egypt, England, Italy, Austria, and Peru. But by the fourth book, it was time for Mira to come home and stay there. When I started that book, I had made my first trip to the city and I saw all the reasons as to why my character had chosen to live in Savannah for more than a century.
As I wrote the scenes of the book, I found locations that wrapped around and meshed with the action so that the mood was set by a swaying of the enormous live oak trees that filled the nearly two dozen parks. Shadows stretched over the landscape for enemies to hide in, as well as offering a quiet solace to a character during a rough moment. Victorian and pre-Civil War homes and town houses edged the squares like the ancient society of vampires that inhabited the city, tucking away their secrets behind elegant wrought iron and windows that reflected the night.
And when I needed a place where the darkest secrets of all needed to be revealed I discovered an alley called Factor Walks that was hidden more than a floor below the main streets of Savannah, tucked away in the thick shadows and guarded by massive stone walls and ballast-stone roads. Here, Savannah beckoned dark deeds and shady transactions.
By the time that I had finished Pray for Dawn, the city of Savannah had taken on a life of her own within the series. She provided me with ideal real-life locations for battles, stolen tender moments, and intense conversations. She had opened her arms to my characters and given them a home. And when I wounded the city with fires, fights, and car chases, the impact was felt on Savannah’s heart as if she were a character as well. She responded by showing her dark side.
For me as the author, Savannah has become more than just background or setting to a story. It has stepped up to become a character that responds as much to the action as the “living, breathing” characters within the stories. Her charm has won me over and seduced me like the hypnotic stare of a nightwalker.
So, my question is: Is there any book or series where the location has been just important in the book as the setting has made a huge impact on the story that you’re reading? Which setting touched your mind and heart?
Leave a comment and enter to win a signed copy of the Unbound anthology and a signed copy of Nightwalker: The First Book in the Dark Days Series. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 8.