I love deep, complex characters. They tend to be my main focus when I’m writing; however, I am very aware of the importance of setting in creating stories that resonate with the reader. As such, I’ve started casting setting as a silent character in my books. Doing so tricks me into giving setting as much attention as it deserves. I spend lots of time trying to make it as real as possible, giving it all the details and personality I would give one of my other well-loved characters.
In my new book, Beyond Eden, I used Tampa, Florida as the setting for my modern day Eden, where a wooden lake house serves as the haven for my three protagonists, Danny, Paul, and Eve to come together in this very passionate, emotional tale.
Instead of treating the setting as a mere backdrop, I used the characters’ vision and opinions about their birth city as a tool to make Tampa vivid. Eve, an artist, identifies with the beauty and romance of older homes like the lake house, and the wild, untamed nature of the Tampa marshlands. Yet, she recoils from the commercialism and its contrast to the parts of Tampa she adores. Danny, part Cuban, gravitates to the rich Cuban culture of the area, particularly that in Ybor city. He’s a talented Cuban cook who shows his love with a home cooked meal or a hot cup of Cuban coffee, capturing the heart of the Cuban culture through food. Through Paul, a career-driven lawyer, we see the harsher realities of corporate America that are as present in Tampa as in any major city.
Through the eyes of these three characters, I was able to paint a vibrantly complete picture of the city. It was an exciting way to give my setting personality—to take slices of Tampa and present them through three very different sets of eyes to paint a complete picture. In the end, I think the setting resonates with the reader as something vital, alive, and essential to the story as a secondary, albeit silent, character.
Visit Ellora’s Cave to read an excerpt from Kele Moon’s debut novel Beyond Eden:
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