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?