Settling on Settings
by Susan Berliner, author of DUST
Since I write realistic (or urban) fantasies, each of my books contains just one supernatural element. But the novels are set firmly in the real world. I locate them in the northeast because that's the region I'm most familiar with. Since I don't want to be locked into factual details, I make my towns mythical places (but not fantasy worlds inhabited by strange creatures, where everything differs from the norm. No vampires, werewolves, or witches in my landscape).
For the setting of DUST, I decided to choose a "Haven" name, figuring it would sound plausible because Connecticut already has so many of them—New Haven, East Haven, West Haven, and North Haven. That's how I came up with "Rock Haven." Even though the town of Rock Haven doesn't exist, it's still a typical northeastern suburb. The condo inhabitants are people we all know; their situations are recognizable too. The only thing that's weird about Rock Haven is the evil swirl of red, green, and blue dust.In my second (not-yet published) novel, Peachwood Lake, the story again revolves around the setting. In fact, it's the title of the book. Here I wanted a tranquil name that would contrast with the deadly violence that occurs in the water. I chose the name "Peachwood" because I couldn't find a real U.S. lake with that serene-sounding name. Again, the people in the town of Peachwood, Connecticut are quite normal; it's the jumping fish (think mini-Jaws) that's extraordinarily strange.The setting plays a lesser role in my third novel, The Disappearance, a paranormal thriller, which I'm currently revising and editing. Most of the action occurs in another imaginary town in the northern suburbs of New York City. Here too, I wanted a quiet-sounding name and, since there's a Northvale in nearby New Jersey, I decided to call my town Southvale. It's a community with only one unusual feature: a time-travel portal.
My novels all take place in realistic settings in a normal world. To enjoy them, the reader has to be willing to suspend disbelief and accept an element of fantasy. Once that happens, the magic will follow.
I am giving away a copy of this book to one reader. Must be a follower. Open to US and Canada only. Contest ends November 20th
Question to readers. What elemental aspect do youlike in your books?