Good day and welcome to another month, my bookish peeps. One of the many things I’ve discovered as I read different genres is that time and place or setting can be just as important as the characters within the story. Can you imagine To Kill a Mockingbird taking place anywhere else but the deep South in the 1930s? Or possibly reimagine the Harry Potter series without Hogwarts? Most authors choose the location of their stories with great care. Some of these locations might be based on real cities or towns and other locations may be completely fictional. The important thing is the role setting plays within the story, sometimes just a backdrop and other times a character in its own right. I’m pleased to welcome Laura Oles, author of Depths of Deceit to the blog today. Ms. Oles will be discussing with us the use of setting as character. Thank you, Ms. Oles, for joining us today, I’ll now turn the blog over to you.
Setting as Character
by Laura Oles
Like many readers, I’m often drawn to a strong setting when choosing the next book to read. Louise Penny has given readers the lovely small town of Three Pines in Quebec. Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series is steeped in setting. Jane Harper’s novels set in the Australian Outback are so vivid that I can feel the dust settling on my skin as I turn the pages.
Setting, in my opinion, is as important as any other aspect of the novel because it, too, is a character and informs the fictional world and the people living in it. It can influence the characters’ choices, increase tension or encourage delay, wrap them in comfort or punish them with force. And like so many characters, it can present itself in one light and reveal a different reality as the story unfolds.
Setting is more than the physical environment of a locale. Experiencing the sights, sounds, scents, and textures are often our first observations, but it is also found in the people, history, and countless stories that call the setting home.
My protagonist, Jamie Rush is a private investigator living in Port Alene, Texas. After growing up as the child of con-artist parents, Jamie traded her nomadic childhood for a home base in this island town. She has found refuge here, this sunny locale kissed by the Gulf Coast and frequented by day trippers and Winter Texans. It’s known as a vacation destination, but Port Alene has a darker side, and this undercurrent is where Jamie spends most of her time.
Port Alene is inspired by Port Aransas, a small beach town that serves as our favorite vacation spot. When things get hectic, we leave the Hill Country for the Gulf Coast. It’s a quick three-hour drive. We can pack the car after work on Friday and still make it to Port A for a late dinner. Over two decades, we’ve learned where to source fresh shrimp, the best time to stop at our favorite coffee shop, and made friends with a few locals who are gracious enough to share their expertise. We’ve learned the off-peak times to take the ferry (although this varies based on season) and how to avoid the army of golf carts driving down Avenue G.
Over the years, my mind began creating stories about this Gulf Coast getaway. Ideas surfaced in my mind like dolphins dancing between the ferry boats in the nearby ship channel. I took my beloved family-friendly beach retreat and created Port Alene. As I watched my kids fishing in the ocean, my mind built a new world filled with characters making deals, sharing secrets, and selling something extra at the local bait shop.
Port Alene is more a sibling than a twin to its inspiration. When creating Port Alene, I decided it would not be an exact replica of the locale I loved. Instead, I took key areas and played with them until they fit into the story. I drew my own maps of Port Alene, fashioning roads and landmarks, bars and restaurants, bait shops, and trinket traps. My protagonist needed these locations because they would prove important in her life. She just didn’t know it yet. But some of the features that make Port Aransas special–Farley boats, the Jetty, the ferry, and the ship channel–all make an appearance to show why Jamie has chosen to call this place home.
The term “island time” is meant to remind visitors to slow down and relax, to not rush unless Happy Hour at Trout Street is almost at a close. Creating a mystery series in an island town meant learning how to honor island time while also escalating the action in the story. In Depths of Deceit, Port Alene’s history is particularly important because Jamie’s latest case reminds her that she knows only a small sliver of her adopted hometown’s story. Every twist reminds Jamie that she’s still an outsider. She must prove herself all over again, and the stakes have never been higher. ♦
Depths of Deceit
by Laura Oles
July 25 – August 19, 2022 Virtual Book Tour
One deadly secret.
No time to lose.
PI Jamie Rush has her hands full with small-time skip-tracing and surveillance jobs in Port Alene, Texas. The work is steady, though she still struggles to make ends meet. But when her partner, Cookie, brings in a low-paying and potentially time-consuming case, Jamie takes it on out of loyalty.
Cookie’s childhood friend, Renata, needs to find her younger sister, Leah. As Jamie digs into Leah’s past, it becomes clear that the missing woman’s life was shrouded in secrets, the kind that could jeopardize those involved in the case.
To complicate matters, PI Alastair Finn has returned, and he’s willing to reclaim his town by any means necessary. Jamie has never been one to retreat, and Alastair enjoys a good fight. Sparks will fly.
A missing woman. Felonies. Finn’s return. Every twist reminds Jamie that she’s still an outsider in this town. Jamie must prove herself all over again, and the stakes have never been higher.
Genre: Mystery, Female PI
Published by: Red Adept Publishing
Publication Date: May 31, 2022
Number of Pages: 292
ISBN: 9781948051859 (paperback)
ASIN: B09YJ1PNCG (Kindle edition)
Series: A Jamie Rush Mystery, #2
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | !ndigo | Goodreads
Laura Oles is the Agatha-nominated and award-winning author of the Jamie Rush mystery series, along with short stories and nonfiction. With two decades of experience in the digital photography industry, Laura’s work has appeared in trade and consumer magazines, crime-fiction anthologies, and she served as a business columnist. Laura loves road trips, bookstores, and any outdoor activity that doesn’t involve running. She lives in the Texas Hill Country with her family.
Catch Up With Laura Oles:
BookBub – @LauraOles
Instagram – @lauraolesauthor
Twitter – @LauraOles
Facebook – @lauraolesauthor
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