Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Melissa MacVicar on Writing Real Places

So I was going to write an introduction for Melissa MacVicar, author of the awesome Secret Affinities books, Ever Near and Ever Lost (my favorite Red Adept YA PNR so far, and you know how I love YA PNR). But then she did it for me. So without further ado, I give you Melissa, and her pictures of real-life Nantucket!

Writing Real Places

When Elizabeth’s second book, Raising Chaos, came out, she wrote an awesome guest post for my blog about fictional versus real places in novels. She made a very good point about writing real places that rung particularly true to me. She said she was glad her book’s settings were fictional because she doesn’t always portray her characters and locales in the best light. There have to be evil doer in any story so I completely get this. And having real places in my books, I worry about the very same thing. 

Nantucket is my hometown and the place I still reside as an adult. I knew from other local authors like Elin Hilderbrand and Nancy Thayer that no matter how many times an author says the characters and events portrayed in their books are fictional, people will still make connections to real life. It’s only natural if your characters are fully developed and very realistic that readers will think they know them. In some ways, this can be good publicity for a book. Locals will want to read it to see if they recognize anyone or even themselves in the book. The scandal of someone possibly being secretly featured could be an intriguing sales platform and has surely been used in the past.

In Ever Near and Ever Lost, because I was writing about a girl growing up on Nantucket, I wanted to find ways to make Jade as different from me as possible so readers wouldn’t think my books were autobiographical tales. Jade is a mixed-race, sixteen-year-old who can see ghosts while I am a Caucasian, forty-three year old woman who has no mediumistic tendencies. Despite all the differences, though, I have heard from at least two people who think I am Jade. They believe I secretly commune with dead behind closed doors. Go figure. The reality is that I have never seen a ghost. To create the ghosts in my books, I used my imagination, drawing on all the the books I’ve read, and the movies I’ve seen to come up with some creepy specters. I hope the speculation about me means I did a good job bringing  them to life.

When it come right down to it, I find using real places the best and easiest way to world build a novel. In my opinion, world building is hard and if you have a solid jumping off point that is real, it makes it so much easier. I draw a lot of creative power from the people and places I interact with everyday. Nantucket is a living, breathing character to me and I hope that comes across in my stories.

Find Melissa online!

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