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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WIP Wednesday - Setting

I am currently finishing up the fifth book in my Black Swamp Mysteries series, which takes place in Lumberton, North Carolina. This is a real town that straddles Interstate 95 in North Carolina from Exits 14 through 22.

My latest release, The Tempest Murders, contains completely different characters and plots, but it also takes place in Lumberton.

There are some places that stand out, and Lumberton is one of them. When you venture to the historic downtown area, it feels as if you're stepping into yesteryear. The Carolina Civic Center Historic Theatre, for example, was recently completed renovated in a style reminiscent of the days in which people dressed up to go to the movies... And a piano was played before every performance. The theatre is featured in Vicki's Key, the second book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, when psychic spy Vicki Boyd encounters a ghost walking across the theatre balcony.

In The Tempest Murders, it is featured again when Detective Ryan O'Clery investigates the killing of a young woman who had come to town with a theatre group.

The Robeson County Courthouse straddles two blocks. When you're driving across the Lumber River bridge into the historic downtown area, you are facing the courthouse steps. In The Tempest Murders, Ryan investigates another homicide along those river banks - and turns around to find people gathered on the courthouse steps, watching him.

I like writing about small towns. Readers can become familiar with them and the people who live there... And in a series, they can feel as if they're coming home when they open a book and remember the streets, the houses, and the descriptions of landmarks from past books.

I was recently reminded of this when I was reading a series that took place in a Scottish village during the 1500's. I began to feel as if I'd been to the village and visited the people there; they'd become that familiar.

If you have the chance, please join me in Lumberton, North Carolina next February 22, 2014. I'll be there with more than 75 authors, publishers and literary agents for the Third Annual Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair. It's free and it's open to the public. For more information, visit