I’m a big fan of novels set in real locations, both as an author and as a reader. It’s exciting to read a story set in a city you’re familiar with. Being able to visualize a particular street corner or restaurant you’ve dined in deepens the reading experience.
My novels are set in Tampa, Florida and the smaller surrounding cities. In each of my Detective Kate Springer books, I picked out a small pocket of the area and highlighted that location. As my protagonist, Detective Springer, says in Dead Like Me, “Tampa’s a patchwork quilt kind of town.” So many cultures make up this great city that there’s always plenty of fodder for the imagination.
When I speak with local book clubs, the one comment I hear over and over is how much they love recognizing the locations showcased in my books. As an author, this is a great way to build a strong local readership and create a loyal fan base.
I incorporated some flavor into my newest Springer novel, Deadly Fantasies, by adding in some ridiculous laws still on the Florida books. Here’s the dialog between Detective Kate Springer and her partner’s five-year-old daughter, Lanie Jessup. I write mysteries with an edge so including this exchange was my way to lighten up the dark mood of the story.
Patrick’s youngest daughter had obviously worn daddy down enough to talk him into handing over the phone.
“Raina, how are you?”
“Jacob pushed me down at school today.”
“That’s horrible. Do you want me to put him in jail for you?”
Raina squealed then broke into a fit of giggles.
“Can I talk to your daddy now?”
“Auntie Kate, did you know in Florida it’s illegal for me to sing in public in my swimsuit?”
“Well next time you’re at the pool, try humming.”
“It’s also illegal to fart in a public place after 6 pm.”
I laughed. The phone filled with the noise of Patrick wrestling the phone away from his five-year-old.
“Sorry,” Patrick said. The sound of a door closed in the background. “Jessup family bedtime stories,” he said.
“Sleepovers at your house must be fun.”
Author Kelly Miller lives in Tampa, Florida where her novel is set. She’s married, has three children, and a black Labrador named Gracie. Kelly is a proud member of the Florida Writers Association. Deadly Fantasies is the second book in the Detective Kate Springer series. The first book, Dead Like Me, won second place in the best mystery category of the 2011 FWA Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. It was also named a semi-finalist in the mystery category of The Kindle Book Review’s 2013 Best Indie Books Awards competition. Copies of Kelly's books can be purchases at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Connect with Kelly socially on her website, weekly blog, Facebook Fan Page, or on Twitter @MillerMystery.
GIVEAWAY: Enter to win a signed paperback copy of Deadly Fantasies at Goodreads. The promotion is open to residents living in the US, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. It ends January 31, 2014.