This is a question that has been plaguing me for the past few weeks…okay, okay…the past few months. I had a novel in the works–my first non-fantasy novel, in fact–I had an outline, I had a cast of characters, I could even see how the whole thing would come together. Then, I got stuck. I wanted to set my novel in modern day London. Blame Sherlock, blame my inability to write about Texas, but I just couldn’t imagine a better backdrop for a story with old family trees and political intrigue.
There’s a slight problem. Despite countless hours spent binge-watching British TV, reading British novels, and occasionally thinking with a British accent, I haven’t been to England since I was about twelve. Over a decade ago (sidebar–what). I don’t know the neighbo(u)rhoods, the (s)language, the normal day-to-day feel of the city. The description that usually comes fairly easily to me feels stilted–it’s usually some version of cold and gray, even though my London experience was made up of blazing sun and temperatures in the 90s.
I don’t think it helped that I workshopped the first two chapters for class last semester. The feedback was so helpful and I’m glad I had the chance to receive critique, but I’ve never workshopped a novel before and I find myself “self-editing” as I write, which is a killer for my already tenuous confidence in the project.
I’m in a course this semester that’s all about archival research–I thought it would be helpful, and it could be, but after hearing my professor talk about the YEARS she spent just doing research for the biography she wrote, I don’t know if I could handle it. I’ve thought about re-situating the story in Boston or New Orleans, and Texas has been suggested. I have to admit, New Orleans is tempting. I don’t know a whole lot about the city, but I know more about it and general Southern culture than I do about London. There’s also the thought that a trip to New Orleans for research would be much more within the realm of affordability than a trip to the UK. In case you’re interested in what this mystery novel is about, look no further.
Tell No Tales
The family that schemes together, stays together
Clara’s life is not what one would call luxurious, but it suits her. After escaping the clutches of her power-hungry family at thirteen and living with her maternal grandfather, Clara is content to live out her life in anonymity—with no one the wiser that she is part of the powerful Lacey family. A “chance” meeting in a cemetery disrupts the plans Clara had for her life and she finds herself thrust headfirst into the intrigue and secrecy she fought so hard to escape.
“Is there a point to this whining?” you may be wondering (if you’ve made it this far) and yes, yes there is!
This is a call to writers out there–have you ever started a project and decided to completely change something in the framework as basic and yet major as setting? Did it work? Have you written a story set in a (real-world) place unfamiliar to you? Did you do research, did you visit?
I hope these won’t be questions asked to the void–I would really appreciate and enjoy some discussion.