Monday, October 26, 2015

Special Occasions

Since writing the final Dylan Scott mystery, Dead Simple, I’ve returned to my Jill Kennedy and Detective Chief Inspector Max Trentham series of crime novels and am writing what may or may not be the last in that particular series, The Final Echoes.

As a few years have passed since the last story was published, I’ve had to refresh my memory of the earlier books and one thing that’s struck me is the way I like ‘occasions’ to play their part. I find Christmas, for example, tends to anchor a story and add another element. The days are extremely short for one thing so much of the action has to take place in darkness. Ice makes journeys treacherous and a good snowfall will quickly hide evidence as well as the odd dead body. The innocence and frivolity of Christmas, with Santas ho-ho-hoing on every corner, Fairytale of New York drifting out of shops and bars, and trees laden with twinkling lights, provide a great contrast to the darker elements of life.

Perhaps my favourite time of year to set a book is Halloween. Along with the cold, dark weather, there are fireworks sounding like guns being fired and the undead walking the streets. Masks - well, I have a thing about masks - the sort of thing that induces nightmares. A group of innocent young children knocking on strangers’ doors can also heighten tension.

What about you? Writers, do you use occasions in your stories? Readers, do you like a story set around Christmas or Halloween or do you find it irritating if you happen to be sitting on a sunny beach with a long, cold drink to hand as you’re reading? I’m curious. I’d hate to think I’d been irritating readers for years. :)


The Final Echoes will be published when I actually get the thing written… ;)


10 comments:

Maureen A. Miller said...

I love Christmas settings, although it seems several of my books happen to fall over Thanksgiving. I think I just like to eat.

Love this cover! That's plenty of atmosphere right there!

Anne Marie Becker said...

I haven't used holidays so much as events, such as weddings or other celebrations, as a backdrop in my stories. I do hope to write a bunch of holiday-focused novellas, though, and eventually bundle them. :)

Rita said...

I’m not a holiday book fanatic. I do like it when ‘occasions’ are included in stories and not the main story plot. BTW I have one of those ‘I’ll publish the book when I actually get the thing written’ books. LOL!

Shirley Wells said...

I'm a fan of Christmas settings too, Maureen, and that's probably because I like to eat, too. :)

Anne Marie, I like events ion stories too. Love the idea of your holiday-focused novellas. Get writing. :)

Rita, good luck with the writing. I swear mine is refusing to be written. :)

jean harrington said...

Interesting that you mention the importance of holidays and weather in this post, Shirley. In the most recent newsletter for SWFRW (Southwest Florida Romance Writers) a friend and fellow author, Lynette Austin, submitted a blog on how seasons are a silent character in her books. July heat for a brand new romance, Thanksgiving for a family-oriented story, etc. I couldn't agree more and have also used time of year as part of the setting in each of my books. Thanks for an interesting reinforcement of an important detail.

Toni Anderson said...

I use holidays. My Cold Justice Series pretty much starts on Memorial Day and I weave that into the story, then Christmas, One story happens pretty much over Christmas Eve and ends Christmas morning. I can really help build the setting. This looks like a great book, Shirley!

Shirley Wells said...

How spooky is that, Jean? Seasons are definitely a silent, and sometimes not so silent, character in my books.

I love how you use Memorial Day, Toni. Yes, it really helps build the setting.

Toni Anderson said...

Just ignore my typos! I'm a disaster on the mini iPad 😱

Shirley Wells said...

Ignored, Toni, lol. I try and do things - blog comments, emails, etc. - on my iPhone. You'd think I'd know by now that my eyesight/brain isn't up to it. ;)

Mike Keyton said...

I have no real interest in a specific season, though I prefer grey skies. My main problem in any long book is being consistent ref time frames and weather. :)