Today I welcome to the blog Cathy Ace, a friend, fellow writer (most recently of the very enjoyable The Wrong Boy), occasional quiz team colleague, and former Chair of the Crime Writers' of Canada, who contributes some thoughts about place in crime fiction.:
"Wish you were here…?
I should begin by telling you that I LOVE my life and where I live it. Truly. I am a deeply contented person. So when I say I read to “escape”, please don’t get the wrong idea – I’m not trying to escape from anything; no, I want to escape to the worlds authors create. You see, one of the things I enjoy most about reading crime fiction is the chance to travel more widely and to get to know places in more depth, and differently, than I could possibly manage in one lifetime. And I’m a person who has traveled, and continues to travel, a great deal – I even migrated from Wales to Canada aged forty!
I might induce some blushing from my host when I say this, but one of the aspects of Martin’s writing I most admire is his ability to portray the soul of an area or location. And by reading those who are good at conveying not just the physicality of a place but also how it feels, I hope my own ability to do the same stands a chance of constantly improving, and sharpening. I truly believe that where a story is set is critically important to the reader’s experience of that story; a lack of a sense of place in a book leads – for me – to an incomplete experience of the tale being told.
It might be that the cultural or natural setting is critical to the plot, or that local history plays a role. Possibly there’s an architectural location with a particular quirk of design, or an especially dangerous/deadly “beauty spot”. The setting can provide the opportunity for a twist, or an entire plot, and mould characters’ cores. It also allows for the delicious tension between those who are bred to it in their bones and those who are in-comers or visitors…so many possibilities for an author whose aim is to draw readers into their work and allow them to experience, rather than simply read, their story.
As storytellers – which is what I strive to be my best to be – we want those reading our tales to become immersed in them. Delivering a fulfilling sense of place is the novelist’s way of “setting the stage” upon which their drama can play out once the curtain is raised. For me.
How do you feel about “place” in the books you read?"
You can find out more about Cathy and her work at her website: http://www.cathyace.com/