…being able to write across different JONGGRS is a special talent… my Guest Poster today, the highly-talented, Authoress, Leanna (L.F.) Falconer, exhibits more than just a touch of common sense about writing with local knowledge… enjoy…
WRITING CLOSE TO HOME
The settings in my novels have led me into some interesting territories—from the completely mythical realms contained within my dark fantasy series to a harrowing voyage across the North Atlantic in a psychological thriller which ultimately ends at a remote point in the Shetland Islands. My short stories have plunked me dead center into a haunted wood in Eastern Europe, the swampy bayous of the deep American South, and into a far flung dystopian future world in the wilds of Alaska.
It wasn’t until I began to set a few of my short stories in my home state of Nevada, in the remote outlands far beyond the glitz and neon of Las Vegas, that I finally started to develop a deeper appreciation of setting within my works.
I’ve dwelt in the high desert my entire life. Even the few years I spent living in coastal cities in California and Oregon, I carried the desert within me. And as any hardened desert rat will tell you, there’s an intimate relationship one forges with this splendorous, yet hostile environment. In the high desert, from seemingly nowhere, there can spring blinding dust storms, or flash floods. With an average elevation of 4000-5000 feet on the flatlands, the summers are blistering hot, the winters, bitter cold. Miles of barren, alkali playas splay between miles of barren, often treeless mountain ranges that jut upwards 8000 to 13,000 feet. Snow fed streams that trickle freely in the spring are bone dry by summer. In the high desert, one quickly learns to respect the forces of nature. During the California gold rush of the 1800’s, people considered themselves lucky to make it across Nevada alive. There are probably plenty of people who drive across my state today who feel the same way.
Nevada’s brutal character was enough to inspire Stephen King to use it, so hey! Why shouldn’t I? After all, I know this land well and even though I enjoyed the stories Mr. King, and some other authors have set here, I could easily spot the flaws. Those occasional moments of setting description that didn’t quite ring true—and the last thing any writer wants is to bump their reader out of the story, no matter how brief a moment that might be.
I am well acquainted with the desert sights, the smells, the sounds, the lay of the land. I know what native plants and animals one might encounter. I am familiar with the geology. I know the inhabitants and their culture, the nuances of speech spoken out here in the sticks, and the meaning behind some of the odd place names: Winnemucca, Beowawe, the Dead Camel Mountains. An intimate knowledge of my setting could really help me cement my fictional world more firmly in reality. Why not set more of my stories in my own backyard?
So, that’s exactly what I did with my latest supernatural thriller: A Debt of Survival. The story revolves around the fictional town of Diablo Springs, which is very loosely based upon my own hometown. Then, I incorporated elements from neighboring, outlying areas and tweaked them a little to create a completely fictional yet thoroughly believable setting. One such place is the Devil’s Cantina, a cluster of boiling hot springs just south of Diablo Springs, a place ripe for urban legends and rumored to be a gateway to Hell. And it doesn’t take long for my small-town protagonist, Sheriff Don Lattimore, to learn that all legends are born from reality.
Even though Diablo Springs and the Devil’s Cantina are fully mythical, their sheer creation has already begun to spawn more adventures inside my imagination. I hurry to scribble them out before they disappear into oblivion. Yet the setting itself is firmly etched into my memory, and if I ever need a bit more inspiration, all I have to do it look outside my window. Out there awaits a world of possibilities. So many more than I will ever have time to write.
*A Debt of Survival will be available in mid-March, 2017.
About L.F. Falconer:
She can’t sing and she can’t dance, but Nevada author L.F. Falconer has been transforming words into stories since childhood. Growing up in a haunted house fostered her fascination with the unknown and kindled her imagination while she honed her craft with classes in journalism and creative writing. When she has time to relax, she enjoys exploring the roads less traveled, discovering what might lie beyond the next curve.
…thanks for giving us a sensory trip to Nevada, m’Lady, Leanna… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!
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