Where in the world...?

Stories have to be grounded in a space somewhere. One of the first things I have to decide is where to place mine.  In Touch of a Thief, the action takes place in London, Paris and Hanover. My novella in the upcoming anthology Improper Gentlemen is set on Bermuda and a fictional country estate outside London.

Lest you think a fictional setting is easier, let me assure you that I spend plenty of time creating the imaginary place, even down to drawing floor plans of the buildings and maps of the area.  Deciding on the name of the location is one of my first considerations.

Naming places is a good trick sometimes. You want something that’s evocative and sounds like it fits the area. Or perhaps the characters name a new place after an old one.

That’s what seems to have happened in Missouri in real life. (Side note: My heart goes out to the victims of the massive tornadoes in Joplin last night. As someone who grew up in Tornado Alley, I feel your pain and pray for a quick recovery for the area.) While I was in south Missouri earlier this month, I was struck by how many “Show-Me” towns are named for other cities or countries. Here’s a partial list of examples: Paris, Madrid, Cuba, Lebanon, Amsterdam, Glasgow, Memphis, Mexico, Normandy, Sparta, Troy–You can travel the world and never leave Missouri!

In the story I’m working on now (Touch of a Scoundrel, coming July 2012), I’ve created a little English town called Shiring-on-the-Green. It’s the situated near the Thames, not far from the river’s gaping mouth. I’ve imagined every cobbled street and thatched roof, as well as the manor house nearby that the village is dependent upon for most of its commerce.

Have you ever traveled to a fictional world you’d like to live in?

4 thoughts on “Where in the world…?

  1. My choice would be Middle Earth. The nicer parts, of course. I wouldn’t want to live in a part that’s overrun with rampaging orcs or cursed by some evil wizard.

    As for imaginary places I’d like to live in that have a strong connection with romance, my choice would be one you’re familiar with: Camelot.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      As far as contemporaries go, Debbie Macomber creates some lovely towns in the Great North West, the kind that make you wish you lived there.

      In the fantasy category, CL Wilson’s Fading Lands remind me of Middle Earth.

      And how many of you ever listened to Prarie Home Companion and thought you’d actually been to Lake Wobegone? A fictional world can live large in our imaginations.

  2. Mia, that’s a great observation about Missouri. Wonder if that’s because the territory settled so quickly in the mid-1800s? “Quick! Another town to name!” Other fake-out cities: Athens, Georgia; Paris, Texas; Manhattan, Kansas (!).

    As far as fictional locations, who wouldn’t want to go to Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green or hang out with Julia Quinn’s Bridgertons at their family home in London? I love when authors create a place that seems as real and unique as the characters, especially if it can continue through several books.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Sometimes city planners punt with street names too. I think Denver uses state names for some of their streets.

      Pemberley is so sharply drawn in P&P I see it very clearly in my mind.

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