Every writer has his or her favorite locations for setting stories. Nicholas Sparks likes North Carolina. Stephen King favors Maine. Dean Koontz stories often frequent California. Usually, it’s where we live and what we know. We’re familiar with the flora and fauna, the dialect of the people, the quirkiness of the area, and lay of the geography. We can describe it in detail and bring it to life for the reader because for us it is alive. It’s part of our life, part of who we are.
But sometimes we go outside our comfort zone and set a story in a location we’re not intimately familiar with. That can be a wonderful challenge.
For me, I like the southern Pennsylvania/northern Maryland region. Southern PA has lots of rolling hills and wooded areas, farm land, small towns, country folk (read The Hunted and Darkness Follows). And Northern MD has some of the creepiest woods I’ve ever been in (as in Darlington Woods).
With my most recent book (Frantic) I explored a new region, Maine.
Setting is just as important to the story as the plot and characters. It sets the tone, adds depth and texture to the story. It’s the skeleton upon which everything else hangs.
So with that in mind, here’s a list of locations where I’d love to set a story.
- Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay. Many of the people there are descendents of the first settlers to inhabit the island in the 1600s. They live off the bay and enjoy a quaint, sheltered life.
- The deep woods of Maine. Dark, mysterious, those seeking adventure enter and never return.
- Centralia, PA. An abandoned town sitting atop a maze of coal mine shafts that continuously burn and smolder. Steam rises through cracks in the asphalt roads, houses tilt precariously.
- The Byberry Mental Hospital. An abandoned asylum outside Philadelphia. You haven’t seen creepy until you’ve seen this place.
- Anywhere in Appalachia. Fascinating people, culture, lifestyles. Very colorful and lots to work with there.
I have a story idea in mind for Centralia and one day I’ll write it. In fact, I plan on calling it just that, Centralia. And it’s in the works . . .
Question: So help me out, what are some other locations that would make a great setting for a suspense/thriller story?