Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Guest Blog: Gerrie Ferris Finger Author of The End Game

The setting for a story is often relegated behind plot and characters. Even theme is considered before setting as an important novel component. Why is setting treated like a stepsister? Don't readers often choose the setting because they like stories written in a particular venue? I'm not fond of the word venue. My newspaper editor once called the Gulf of Mexico a venue.

I digress.

A reader who likes westerns thinks horses, chaps, buttes, gunslingers, saloons, and characters wearing holsters and ten gallon hats or long skirts. Sooner or later, the reader will learn the characters names. Am I saying setting is the most important element of a novel? No. I'm maintaining that setting is a character and influences the plot as much as characters. We can leave theme alone here. She's universal.

I can't imagine The Great Gatsby situated in any other city than New York. The draw of New York for hopeful, up-and-comers is legendary. No songs have been written declaring, if I can make it in St. Louis, I can make it anywhere.

Like New York, or the Deep South of Faulkner (Could A Rose for Emily have been set anywhere than Mississippi?), a place (setting) has a history, unique demographics, culture, attitudes, social values, language dialect, etc. It's how your characters interact with this place in which they find themselves, just as they interact with the people they meet there or with whom they live, that makes the setting a character.

The End Game is set in Atlanta. I've lived in Atlanta for so long, I'm almost a native (given that Atlanta is a Mecca for transplants). Other cities have railroads and railroad communities like Cabbagetown. Other cities have old converted-into-lofts warehouses and venerated old cemeteries like Oakland Cemetery, but they don't have what Sherman did to the city during the Civil War (or War Between the States, as Southerners like to call that conflict). They didn't lose their pride and way of life, then concoct a motto calling itself: The City too Busy to Hate.

Moriah Dru and Richard Lake are the protagonists. Their families precede The War. They aren't society, but they come from a line of ancestors taught to protect their fragile society. When a few of Atlanta's unfortunate children are stolen for the overseas sex trade, Moriah makes it her mission to track and down and punish the offenders – the thieves of a childhood that should hold security, that's sometimes painful, but in a wondrous, growing-up way.

Setting. It's a wonderful, distinctive thing. Robin Agnew reviewed The End Game, and had this to say in her thoroughly positive review: "The Atlanta setting is used well also, something that bodes well for future installments."

I like what she says.

About the book:
Moriah Dru’s weekend off with her lover, Lieutenant Richard Lake, is interrupted when Atlanta juvenile court judge Portia Devon hires Dru to find two sisters who’ve gone missing after their foster parents’ house burns down.

A hunt for two young sisters propels Finger's compelling if at times sobering debut… A well-researched plot and snappy dialogue—plus some fine rail-yard K-9 detecting by Buddy, a German shepherd, and Jed, a Labrador retriever—keep the action moving. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Gerrie Ferris Finger is a winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. She lives on the coast of Georgia with her husband and standard poodle, Bogey.



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