Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Locations, New Ideas

I wrote a guest post for the fabulous Maine Crime Writers blog recently about a week I spent on an island in Maine thirty years ago. I hold very fond memories of that week on Great Gott's Island.

It got me thinking about other places I have traveled, which are many and international. Which got me thinking about having my protagonist in the Local Foods Mysteries do some traveling later in the series. But it's a cozy series and cozies typically keep the action confined to one town, one setting. There are exceptions to this rule, especially in long-running series. Katherine Hall Page, for example, has set books in Maine, in France, and elsewhere, but usually goes back to her protagonist's Massachusetts town in between other locales.


I could reasonably have farmer Cam Flaherty attend the Common Ground organic farming conference in Unity, Maine, and then head to an island for a week of vacation. But it would be tricky for her to, say, spend time in Mali or Japan or Brazil, places I have lived and know well.

So maybe I need to come up with a new series with a protagonist who has a reason to travel to some of the far-flung places I have experienced as a resident. Sheila Connolly has a new series set in Ireland (and reports that she just got back from two weeks of "research" there, which sounds to me like just an excuse for a cool vacation). I read about someone who created a travel-agent protagonist for just that reason, and Gigi Pandian has a new series featuring an historian who also has just cause to travel (her first book is set in San Francisco and then Scotland).

Come to think of it, I already HAVE a protagonist with a reason to travel. Lauren Rousseau, the linguistics professor in Speaking of Murder, could plausibly head to Japan for an Asian Linguistics conference. Or to Mali to do research on Bamanankan, the first language of a large portion of the population. Or to Brazil, France, Quebec, Puerto Rico, and so on. 


So it looks like what I have to come up with is the TIME to write two series at once. Once I do that, I can also go on tax-deductible "research" trips - I look forward to that. 

What exotic place would you like to see a mystery series set in? What's your favorite travel mystery? Or do you prefer that your cozy protagonist stays settled in one place? 

21 comments:

  1. I can happily report that Ireland is very much into local foods these days, including organic, and I visited a farmers market that surpassed anything I've seen here (and it's a year round event, not just for tourists). Of course, there are still plenty of potatoes and carrots and cabbage, but they're certainly fresh!

    And I think Ireland is just one big small town--everybody knows everyone else. What other countries fit that description, do you think?

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    1. Good news about local foods, Sheila!

      The West African countries I have lived in almost fit that description of being one big small town, despite the huge land mass of a place like Mali. The population is so small that there are connections everywhere.

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  2. I love to travel, too, and I use historic hotels as venues for my mysteries. I believe that having travel as an element in the story brings a freshness to each book.

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    1. Nice idea, Kathleen! Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. In my trilogy of Post Cold War political thrillers (two out so far), I have my characters travel to cities all around the world I have visited at one time or another. I try to give enough detail to make them come alive. I think readers enjoy a chance to learn about other areas.

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    1. I agree, Chester! Thanks for mentioning your trilogy - I'll check it out.

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    2. Hey, Edith. Love the travel idea. I'm not pubbed yet, but one of my books is set in Woodstock, VT because of a couple of trips there. The heroine had a friend living there she visited after the death of her spouse, then when her father is also killed, she leaves Texas and relocates there. I remember the old Mary Stuart and Phyllis Whitney books set in exotice locales. Fun to feel like you're there without all the hardships. Think it's harder for those who write cozies, but if you can people the locale with several of the same characters think it might work. I want to set another book in New England, just haven't hit on the reason for my Texans to get there. :)Good luck and here's to many more trips for all of us.

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  4. Thanks so much, Marsha! Definitely get your characters to New England again. How about a leaf-peeping tour?

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  5. Nice post! I seem to use places I've lived as settings. Luckily, I've lived a lot of places. I have visions of sending my symphony conductor all over the world. Expensive, though!

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  6. Thanks, Kaye! A symphony conductor could certainly travel widely. Fun.

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  7. The North Fork of Long Island would be great. There are some colonial era settlements out there, with stony outcroppings along the Long Island Sound and twisty turny roads with lots of marshland and cliffs and protected pine barrens. Definitely picturesque in summer and spooky in winter!

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    1. Cool, Margaret. It sounds great in all seasons. Thanks for popping by!

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  8. If anyone needs setting info for northern Minnesota, I'm ready. I am sure things have changed a lot in New Jersey and Rhode Island since the 1970's.

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    1. Fun! (Brrr.) I like that my commenters are talking to each other, too. ;^)

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    2. Ana, please contact me. Would love to talk about your CSA and farm experience! Are you on facebook?

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  9. I'm writing a book set in Minneapolis, but it's a 3-book series and might need to move to northern MN at some point! Can I keep your contact info, Ana?

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    1. All your series are losing me, Kaye. Is this the symphony series or the proposal you're doing for Jessica Faust?

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    2. You and me both, Edith! This is the Berkley series (for which I have a 3-book contract--yay!).

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    3. Sorry, lost track of the Berkeley contract. Whee!

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  10. In my upcoming third Carol Golden amnesia mystery, Carol gets to travel to all 7 continents, including Antarctica. She may not remember her past, but she'll remember this trip!

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    1. I like that, Alan. Will check out those mysteries!

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