Welcome to our Friday guest blog which comes from a Rukia Publishing featured author - Mike Martin. Today we look at how Mike sets the scene for his novels.
Setting the Scene for a Good Story
By Mike Martin
Like many mystery or fiction writers, scenery and setting are crucial to my stories. I have often joked that the weather is a character all to itself and in an ocean-side setting that is often the case. In Newfoundland, a small island on the easternmost tip of Canada, there’s always a little bit or a lot of wind, and almost always the threat of some form of precipitation. That has allowed me to add pace or increase the tempo of the stories almost like adjusting the barometer.
Certain things can only happen in certain settings, although as fiction writers we do stretch that as far as our reader’s imagination will take us. For my books, the small coastal communities are tightly knit and full of secrets. My job is to pry them loose. I also have a responsibility to portray an authentic voice for both the setting and the communities. The words and actions of my characters are visitors to their world and I have to try and allow both to interact with integrity.
In order to maintain that true voice I try to only use places that I have actually seen or visited. Just for me, I think it would be hard to write about a librarian in the Deep South, although I admire those who do. And I do try and use all my senses to describe the setting, what it looks like, sounds like, smells like, feels like and sometimes even tastes like. This makes writing the story more than a cerebral exercise. It involves all of my senses and I hope it makes it more enjoyable to read at the end.
But because we are visual creatures it all starts with what we see. For each of the books in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series I have been inspired by a setting or a scene. Then comes the initial start of the story, followed closely behind by the characters who tell me the rest of the story. My job is just to write it down. Simple, right? So did I get the inspirations for my books?
Here is the cover from Book #1, The Walker on the Cape
This is the lighthouse on the wharf in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. As soon as I saw it I knew that’s where the adventure would begin. One of the interesting things about this photo is that I found it online when I was looking for a cover image. It had been taken and posted by a blogger from Georgia in the U.S. We added a little fog and rays of sunshine coming through the clouds and the effect is stunning.
Here is the cover from Book #2, The Body on the T
This is another great picture. It’s a boardwalk reaching out into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes when you walk along the fog starts creeping in from the ocean and in minutes you are completely covered by the stuff. You literally can’t see your hands in front of you. Another great place to start a mystery story.
Here is the cover from Book #3, Beneath the Surface
As you can see this picture features an iceberg which has drifted in close to shore. This is actually not unusual and there are often hundreds of icebergs that drift down along the coast of Newfoundland from the Arctic and Greenland during the spring each year. They are always fascinating to see and one of the main characteristics of icebergs is that only 1/8th of the iceberg is visible above the surface. The rest is Beneath the Surface.
Finally here is the cover from Book #4, A Twist of Fortune
This is a picture of the inner harbour in Fortune, Newfoundland. The buildings are small fishing sheds or stages that the local fisherman use for storing equipment and supplies. This would be a very familiar sight in many small fishing communities on the east coast of Canada. The dark clouds in the background signify a coming storm for both the fishermen and the community. If you want to know more you have to read the book!!!
Thank you, Mike, the images are spectacular and your insight into the origins and their influence gives readers a greater understanding of the importance and creative thinking required by fiction authors.
Readers, I hope you have enjoyed this feature. If you have any questions for Mike feel free to comment below. To show your appreciation for his guest blog be sure to share it on Facebook and/or Twitter using #RPBP
Thanks for reading,
To find out more about Mike and his books visit his author website
A Twist of Fortune is now available as an e-book for only $2.99
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