Where are your novels set?

I saw this GIF on Tumblr the other day and it got me thinking… how much of what you write is influenced by what is around you?

I’m curious about this because they say “write what you know” but when it comes to setting, I try to get as far away as possible. I like to read books that are completely different from my life and I have a similar tendency when I’m writing.

I mean, thinking back over the last few novels I’ve written:
Wrapped in Darkness – set in the dark and gritty, crime-filled realm of Purgatory.

Sector 12 – set in a futuristic city.

Isla & Morax – set in a medieval kingdom.

That said, the novel I’m going to tackle for Camp Nanowrimo in April will be set in a small town like the one I live in. I’m coming back to basics!

Where are your novels set and why? Do you like to escape from your regular life, or do you draw on what you can see around you?

About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
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99 Responses to Where are your novels set?

  1. I’m in agreement . . . in Canada, where I live, the publishing industry likes to celebrate books about the Canada. As a kid, I didn’t want to read about the place where I lived, and I still don’t. I’ll take Narnia, thank you very much! So, that’s the philosophy I have when I write. Still, I tend to try and collect settings with my experiences that inspire me. These are usually small details like doors, gargoyles, and staircases. I pretty much love a good dungeon, catacomb, or tomb.

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  2. I’m in agreement . . . in Canada, where I live, the publishing industry likes to celebrate books about the Canada. As a kid, I didn’t want to read about the place where I lived, and I still don’t. I’ll take Narnia, thank you very much! So, that’s the philosophy I have when I write. Still, I tend to try and collect settings with my experiences that inspire me. These are usually small details like doors, gargoyles, and staircases. I pretty much love a good dungeon, catacomb, or tomb.

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  3. Luna Elektra says:

    Neat, and very true. I think it’s one of those ubiquitous “writing myths”, much like the “write what you know/are familiar with”, it’s bunk* hehe

    Also like that, “Show, don’t tell”. Show is always present in good storytelling. But the tricky part is, being able to use both qualities effectively. When both are interwoven into storytelling then it becomes great. And your last name, Llewellyn, is it Welsh? Mine is too! lol 🙂

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  4. Luna Elektra says:

    Neat, and very true. I think it’s one of those ubiquitous “writing myths”, much like the “write what you know/are familiar with”, it’s bunk* hehe

    Also like that, “Show, don’t tell”. Show is always present in good storytelling. But the tricky part is, being able to use both qualities effectively. When both are interwoven into storytelling then it becomes great. And your last name, Llewellyn, is it Welsh? Mine is too! lol 🙂

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  5. A little of both. The book currently out on sub is set in classical Rome and its provinces, so that’s rather far from what I see out the window each day. 😉 And the project I’m currently researching will be a second-world fantasy with elements drawn from Tenochtitlan, Babylon, Nile and Amazon cultures, all sorts of things quite removed from my everyday experience. But I’ve also written a screenplay set pretty much exactly where I live, though in a dystopian AU, and my steampunk project takes place in the American South. I love my region, despite all of its problems (because, really, what region doesn’t have them? Ours are just particularly well-publicized). I’m not much interested in contemporary realism, though, but that’s a genre preference, not a locative one.

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  6. A little of both. The book currently out on sub is set in classical Rome and its provinces, so that’s rather far from what I see out the window each day. 😉 And the project I’m currently researching will be a second-world fantasy with elements drawn from Tenochtitlan, Babylon, Nile and Amazon cultures, all sorts of things quite removed from my everyday experience. But I’ve also written a screenplay set pretty much exactly where I live, though in a dystopian AU, and my steampunk project takes place in the American South. I love my region, despite all of its problems (because, really, what region doesn’t have them? Ours are just particularly well-publicized). I’m not much interested in contemporary realism, though, but that’s a genre preference, not a locative one.

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  7. Rose F says:

    I have one story set in a city inspired by mine. Another set in a pre-industrial (not medieval) fantasy world. A third set in a futuristic far away galaxy. Inspired by…guess what.

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  8. Rose F says:

    I have one story set in a city inspired by mine. Another set in a pre-industrial (not medieval) fantasy world. A third set in a futuristic far away galaxy. Inspired by…guess what.

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  9. I definitely am drawn to setting my books here in the desert southwest; a lot of what I write is fantasy and I like to make up the imagined land as a riff on deserts and canyons instead of medieval Europe.

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  10. I definitely am drawn to setting my books here in the desert southwest; a lot of what I write is fantasy and I like to make up the imagined land as a riff on deserts and canyons instead of medieval Europe.

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  11. emianne says:

    I stray all over the place, always trying to write about somewhere new. I think a lot of the themes in my writing come from the same place – the “what I know” – but I want to apply those things to wider spaces. I think the “Where” of my stories tends to follow after what I commonly read. My current WIP novel is set in a pre-industrial fantasy world, which is what I’m most likely to be reading at any given time.

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  12. emianne says:

    I stray all over the place, always trying to write about somewhere new. I think a lot of the themes in my writing come from the same place – the “what I know” – but I want to apply those things to wider spaces. I think the “Where” of my stories tends to follow after what I commonly read. My current WIP novel is set in a pre-industrial fantasy world, which is what I’m most likely to be reading at any given time.

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  13. hellphie says:

    My settings move around, depending an the story, but somehow, they always seem to take place in the fall/early winter, and always include snow. Snow makes me happy, and unconsciously that always find a place in my writing – even in made up worlds. Too much sunshine is boring.

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  14. hellphie says:

    My settings move around, depending an the story, but somehow, they always seem to take place in the fall/early winter, and always include snow. Snow makes me happy, and unconsciously that always find a place in my writing – even in made up worlds. Too much sunshine is boring.

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  15. RoboticRAven says:

    Some of my stories take place in my own city or state, others in made-up places, others in real places I’ve never been. I like the variety. Sometimes I want to write about what I know, sometimes not.

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  16. RoboticRAven says:

    Some of my stories take place in my own city or state, others in made-up places, others in real places I’ve never been. I like the variety. Sometimes I want to write about what I know, sometimes not.

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  17. It’s something that I’ve never really thought of before. The main thing that I’m currently working on takes place in a setting based on the Middle East. While another project is in a made up town based on the one I’m currently living in, and the other project IS the town I’m currently living in.

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  18. It’s something that I’ve never really thought of before. The main thing that I’m currently working on takes place in a setting based on the Middle East. While another project is in a made up town based on the one I’m currently living in, and the other project IS the town I’m currently living in.

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  19. J. Mahogany says:

    My muse comes from what is around me, but being that my imagination has always been a bit eccentric, I can turn a dreary living room into a castle or bunker in WWII. It may start basic but where it ends is as good a guess to you as it is to me 🙂

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  20. J. Mahogany says:

    My muse comes from what is around me, but being that my imagination has always been a bit eccentric, I can turn a dreary living room into a castle or bunker in WWII. It may start basic but where it ends is as good a guess to you as it is to me 🙂

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  21. Dixie Minor says:

    My novel was set in a place I like to visit, the mountains of north Georgia. We live close enough to visit there, and I love to go there, so it was a great excuse to take some short trips for ” research.” 🙂 I guess it was kind of a combination of escape and of what I know for a setting. I love to read fantasy, though, as well as realistic fiction, and since I am drawn to write the kind of thing I like to read, I wonder if the type of setting I want to try will change in future books. Great question and food for thought; thanks!

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  22. Dixie Minor says:

    My novel was set in a place I like to visit, the mountains of north Georgia. We live close enough to visit there, and I love to go there, so it was a great excuse to take some short trips for ” research.” 🙂 I guess it was kind of a combination of escape and of what I know for a setting. I love to read fantasy, though, as well as realistic fiction, and since I am drawn to write the kind of thing I like to read, I wonder if the type of setting I want to try will change in future books. Great question and food for thought; thanks!

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  23. I read to escape and I think I write and create places that I wish I was in at that moment. I do think I draw inspiration from what is around me, more so emotions that nature itself but you’ve posed a great question here!

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  24. Cay says:

    Well, my main character is going to be moving around quite a bit, and I’ve been thinking back and forth about creating places that are inspired by places I’ve seen, or go for the actual, existing place, with names and roads and all as it is in RL. And I’ve decided to go for the real deal. So my setting will be Thailand (I’ve spent a lot of time there) and a part of Africa that I know very well. The only place that I don’t know from own experiences is New York. But hey, if I ever find a publisher that is interested in my work, I have the best excuse EVER to finally visit the Big Apple. 😉

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  25. Charli Mills says:

    Kind of a mixture…places where I’d like to go or have been. I think I like to feel rooted in the places I write about in some way. Thoughtful question!

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  26. A.D. Everard says:

    Many writers write for the same reason readers read, and escapism has a lot to do with it. That doesn’t mean not writing from what you know. Knowledge has to be there or the work will come across as shallow or weakly thought out. I love to put knowledge into my stories – which happen to be set on other planets with other civilizations as playmates, friends and foe (and across the galaxy is about as far away as one can get). 🙂

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  27. pauljgies says:

    I started off with sort-of medieval settings in imaginary worlds. I’ve written in space (trying to be realistic; no one goes ten light years in less than ten years) and also in a time travel environment where the entire multifarious cosmos is my playground. I don’t think of fantasy settings as escapism. I think of them as realism about the vaster universe. That’s how it worked for Lovecraft and it’s how it works for me. There’s nasty stuff out there and we need to think about what to do in situations that are dangerous in ways we can barely imagine. It’s good for us. (But a little sexual tension is nice too.)

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    • A.D. Everard says:

      You sound like you write much like I do. Realism is important. I got around the light-year problem by using huge teleporting Relays build in orbit. Mind, it’s set in an unspecified time in the future (about 500 years). The thing I didn’t enjoy in sci-fi when I was a kid was that much of it was so dry – no humanity – so that’s what I put in mine. Sexual tension, too, you bet – and sex itself. People are people, with humor and fear and love and lust, and all the other aspects that make us human.

      Cheers! 🙂

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  28. I love that you have images to convey the ‘feel’ of each novel’s setting – that’s something I’m working on doing for different areas in my WIP (it’s a road story, so several settings).

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  29. musehick says:

    My landscapes tend to grow out of the characters – I have an approach like the Ancient Mariner where the perspective of the character shapes how you see what they are looking at, and it is the first steps that they take, where their foot kind of hits the ground and the landscape bubbles up like oil; or like Michael Jackson walking down the pavement in Billie Jean – their passage lights the way and then I find out where they are going, and where they are. I think the only time the landscape comes first is if the landscape is a main character in and of itself and it demands to be front and centre.

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  30. hughiegibson says:

    for my mystery series it is set in a small town similar to the one where I live and added bits of surrounding towns. For my supernatural fantasy is set in St. Louis MO. I live south of there and lived there for a bit so I know it well. my opinion is if you are going to write about a real place it needs to be as accurate as possible. that doesnt mean you have to be from there. thatbis what research is for. research is more important than writing what already know.

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  31. hughiegibson says:

    for my mystery series it is set in a small town similar to the one where I live and added bits of surrounding towns. For my supernatural fantasy is set in St. Louis MO. I live south of there and lived there for a bit so I know it well. my opinion is if you are going to write about a real place it needs to be as accurate as possible. that doesnt mean you have to be from there. thatbis what research is for. research is more important than writing what already know.

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  32. Kaesey says:

    So far, I seem to write really, really close to home. Like, my grandmother’s backyard. =) I travel further afield in time (historical fiction) than place.

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  33. J.C says:

    A mix of the familiar and the unknown. I think writing about a new place can add challenge & creativity to your writing, though doing the research can be a pain!

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  34. I write what I know but I’ve traveled a lot so I know a lot of places. My new book Take Me Home is set in Florida, Idaho, Long Island and includes a cross country road trip. It’s divided into four parts and I tried to evoke a different mode in each of the parts. The landscape is very much a part of the book. I wanted to convey how varied and interesting America really is.

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  35. barn7777 says:

    I too, like to set a lot of my stories in environments much different from mine, with my characters taking on adventures I only dream of. Some settings have been in fictional places in North Africa, mountains in a fictional island, and royal plains of an unknown era. My inspiration comes from movies and stories of the past and present and even the world and whatever scenes it provokes!

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  36. barn7777 says:

    I too, like to set a lot of my stories in environments much different from mine, with my characters taking on adventures I only dream of. Some settings have been in fictional places in North Africa, mountains in a fictional island, and royal plains of an unknown era. My inspiration comes from movies and stories of the past and present and even the world and whatever scenes it provokes!

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