Are You There Yet? -- Setting a Story

Why do we read works of fiction in our spare time? Two reasons are for pleasure and for escapism. A novel is comprised of many parts. There are the characters, a literary cast of leading and supporting folks whose journeys, loves, losses and conflicts we eagerly anticipate. If one were dissecting a story, the plot would serve as the framework around which a story is constructed. Another aspect of story is the tone conveyed, and this runs the gamut from upbeat to angst-ridden. Today my focus isn’t on the people, conflicts or tones that comprise a story but rather on the place. Setting is the story element that grants us escapism and fantastic fictional voyages. Allows us to have the sense of being there with the characters and experiencing their surroundings.

My favorite reason for writing historical and paranormal romance deals with setting. The fact I have a chance to recreate bygone eras and create otherworlds is extremely satisfying and often finds me staying up late as my mind sifts through the creative possibilities.

Of all the wonderful and interesting places to set a fiction novel, New Orleans ranks as my favorite. Each time my husband and I have visited the Crescent City, I’ve filled steno tablets with notes referencing the glorious architectural feats and historical details. What visit to this Louisiana getaway is complete without a ride on the St. Charles streetcar? From the moment we stepped out of the front entrance of The Pontchartrain Hotel, the melodic bell’s clang-clanging filled the air. While day-tripping, we soaked up the lively atmosphere on Bourbon Street, visited Voodoo shops and the tomb of Madame Laveau. Simply standing there in St. Louis Cemetery #1 evoked a sense of spirit—not only of those past but also of the indomitable spirits once possessed by those who lay in eternal rest. As a result of our last visit to the cemetery, the idea for my upcoming historical erotic romance, TORMENTED, came to mind. One evening found us strolling parts of the vibrant city and learning about the macabre Madame Dephine LaLaurie and some of the more sinister souls who once lived there. The following afternoon, for a truly breathtaking experience, we ventured into The Garden District and admired the Queen Anne Victorian, Italianate and Greek Revival mansions. Massive oaks stretched their wooden arms toward the sky, and their plentiful leaves whispered at us in passing. Yards bloomed with crape myrtle and magnolia, and fresh-mowed grass filled the air with its crisp-green perfume. Of course, all of our outdoor activities sparked an appetite. The Vieux Carré has always amazed and satisfied us with its fantastic cuisine. Mornings found us browsing the French Market and stopping by Café Du Monde on Decatur Street for delicious cups of café au lait and mouthwatering beignets. Whether you enjoy a muffuletta or some crawfish etoufee for lunch, be certain to save room for some of the cuisine available once the sun heads toward setting. Hearty buffets at the Court of Two Sisters (enjoy their Jazz Brunch on Sundays) or sumptuous steak dinners and Banana’s Foster at Brennan’s. And if you happen to have a craving for sweets and other delectable fare, dine at The Cheesecake Bistro. In the evenings, we walked along Magazine Street or enjoyed a carriage ride through the city.

A winsome Boston socialite—Eve Morneau—falls victim to a venomous beetle’s bite. Her healing and sexual awakening are placed in the hands of a New Orleans physician, Charles Galletiére, whose unconventional means of curing her malady lend themselves to unbridled passion and abandonment of her former ways of life. Immortality comes at a cost to the innocent woman, and her Christian soul might be left hanging in the balance.

As I type this message in a town quite far away from New Orleans, my desire is piqued to return to the delta and place that has served as a setting for several of my novels, some of which are unpublished. Here’s to you all having many journeys to fabulous places and exotic worlds over the course of your traveling and reading lives. As they say, Laissez les bon temps rouler…Let the good times roll.

Wishing you all many happy reading moments,

Shawna Moore
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave
TORMENTED -- Coming soon to Ellora's Cave

Shawna's Myspace
Helle's Myspace


Nicole North said...

Wonderful post, Shawna!! I would love to visit New Orleans. I've never been, but it is a setting I have a lot of interest in. You have some wonderful descriptions of the city. And I've enjoyed the many movies that are set there.

member said...

I have been to New Orleans, and the history is very romantic. I appreciate a good romance book with more context and depth to it. My latest read has accomplished this task, Take Me There. Thanks for list of future reads. :)

ShawnaMoore said...

Hi, Nicole!

You will love New Orleans :) Truly a getaway with so many excursion possibilties :) I'm glad you enjoyed my post :) Anytime I can chat about NO, I'm happy :)

Happy holiday weekend wishes,


ShawnaMoore said...

Hi, PF!

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts :) I absolutely agree about depth, especially emotional, in romance novels. We readers want to be swept along with the developing aspects of the fictional relationship :)

Happy holiday weekend wishes,


Elen Grey said...

I loved your description of New Orleans, Shawna, and want to pack a bag. Now! lol Setting is one of my favorite characters in story. :-) It adds such depth and texture.

Everybody have a great writing day.

ShawnaMoore said...

Hi, Elen!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts :) Let's pack those bags and head to the Deep South :) Wouldn't take much persuading to get me packing LOL Anytime I can head to New Orleans, that finds me in a great mood :)

Happy week wishes,


Mia Varano said...

Shawna, I loved New Orleans the one and only time I visited. Unfortunately, I was two months pregnant at the time and couldn't fully enjoy the fantastic restaurants (or the hurricanes!) because of morning sickness. New Orleans always makes me think of Ann Rice's vampire series. A great place to set a story!

ShawnaMoore said...

Hi, Mia!

Thanks for adding your thoughts about NO :) Like you, I always think of Anne Rice's vampire novels when in the Crescent City. Especially when the sun sets :) I've never visited a city that evoked so many emotions :)

Here's hoping you have a chance to revisit and enjoy to the max!

Happy weekend wishes,


Terry Spear/Terry Lee Wilde said...

Super post, Shawna! I loved New Orleans when I visited. And Salem, Massachusetts. Why such different places? St Augustine. The beaches in Oregon. Because they ARE different, unique, not like every place else. I sat at a courtyard cafe in New Orleans with lemon trees scenting the air. No where else have I ever experienced that! So settings can be fun to write about, especially when you've been there!

ShawnaMoore said...

Hi, Terry!

I totally agree with your reasoning behind a fondness for certain places--they are unique :) Salem has long been one of my favorite getaways. The next time I'm in NO, I must find a relaxing courtyard like the one you visited. The way those nooks are tucked away between buildings is so cool. A simple entryway shuts them off from the street so those inside are in their own little relaxing world. Lush plants and bubbling fountains. Perfect! Architectural genius, IMO :) Thanks for posting your thoughts, Terry!

Happy weekend wishes,