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… ;)