Thursday, 7 October 2010

How do you pick your setting? Or how I discovered Pelican Cove

So I had a rough idea of what I wanted my next story to be about.  The only thing was - this medical had a little twist.  And this twist required the story to have an American setting.  So, since I don't live in America, how was I going to pick a setting?
Then it appeared, via Murder She Wrote.  Shown at present every afternoon on British TV.  Cabot Cove.  Perfect.
Then I discovered that the Cabot Cove set at Universal Pictures was also where they filmed Jaws and that kind of put me off.  Then I made another discovery - although Cabot Cove was set in Maine, some of the outside settings were actually filmed in Mendocino, California.  So that made me think a little harder and do a little research.
And here's what I found

Gorgeous!  Absolutely gorgeous!!  And just perfect for my setting.  So I did a little more research and found out about the nearby medical facilities, what was available, what would fit with my story.  I found out about the surrounding area and the beautiful nearby housing stock.
so I'm loving it.  Perfect.  My characters have the perfect setting for falling in love.  And now I find out about the local industry so I know what kind of accidents can happen that my characters can deal with!  Then it happens - I find out about the Pelicans.
The pelicans that are native to Mendocino valley.  And now I have my name for my fictional setting PELICAN COVE.
Now, just be glad I didn't want to tell you about the research I did for The Venetian Doctor, all set on a cruise ship!
So how do you pick your setting for your story?


  1. Murder, She Wrote is one of my guilty pleasures. I just love that programme!

    I love the idea of Pelican Cove, too, it's fab. Great name too :-)

    My second ms was set in Hunter Valley, Australia. Luckily my parents went on holiday to Oz while I was writing it so they brought me back tons of brochures. Apparently they took pics, too, but dad left the video camera and digital camera on the coach back to the airport ... big oops!

    So I guess I usually have my characters, know a little about their journey and the setting comes out from there. I love researching, though, particularly houses.

  2. Pelican Cove sounds wonderful. I'm loving the name. Definitely a winner!

  3. So far my settings have all been right out of my imagination. I may take bits and pieces from places I've visited over the years, but I create my own towns and neighborhoods.

  4. Love it Susan! Lots of luck with the new WIP, sounds and looks gorgeous.

    Have you heard anything back on the full you have in with M&B? Fingers still crossed here for you xx

  5. I LOVE the name Pelican Cove. Really, really looks like a sweet place to set a story too. I'm intrigued about what kind of accidents they might have there!

    Previously I was targetting MH, so it was mostly big city settings. My current wip (like yours) is set in America. Hollywood to be precise and I have never ever been there. Don't know what I was thinking! Thank God for the Internet hey?

    I'm with Joanne - can't wait to hear about your sub. I'm positive it'll be great news :)

  6. Joanne - can't believe your dad left the camera and the video camera on the bus! How much trouble was he in?? Australia is a fab setting for your story.x
    Lacey - thank you, glad you like the name! Don't know if they ever make you change the names of your fictional settings, but it would be interesting to find out!
    Wendy - that's the best bit creating our own settings - using our imagination and letting it run riot!
    Joanne and Rach - still waiting to hear. There must have been an acquisition meeting yesterday because Maisey Yates and Donna Alward both sold new books and another girl Amy Strnad got The Call! Guess I'm just going to have to sit on my hands a bit longer x

  7. I want to live in Pelican Cove - in that wee house in the photo. Love it, Susan.


  8. Hi Susan, I love the name Pelican Cove and the house looks adorable. Isn't it wonderful when all those things start to come together. I set one of my books, 'Healing Love' in a doctors surgery and most of my research consisted of watching Doctors which is on each day just before Murder She Wrote. What on earth would we do without the TV and the internet. Of course, we'd go to the library like we used to but it is useful to do what you've done, download the photos and then you can just sink into them as you write. I've spent many holidays in California as my ex mother in law who I'm still very fond of lives there. Some of those beachy places are absolutely gorgeous although the sea is freezing. She still lives in a lovely town outside San Francisco and would be very happy I'm sure to chat via e-mail if you need any inside info. I'm still desperate to hear your news which I'm sure will be positive and I only feel you haven't yet had the call because they're so tied up with New Voices still. Can't wait to read your book having seen it's conception so to speak - lovely photos!

  9. Thank you Suzanne. I love that house too and am having great fun right now deciding what's going on in there!
    Cara - still waiting for word about the book. Was easily and thankfully distracted by New Voices, liked the cougar story (would pretty much like to have a shot at being a cougar myself!). I may well take you up on the California info offer, many thanks for that!

  10. Pelican Cove is a great name for your setting! The California coastline is a beautiful place to visit. I'm wishing you the best with this story and with your full.