Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sense of Place in The Blood Cries Out

Seattle Pacific University
I seem to either connect or not connect with a place; there's seldom a feeling of ambivalence. In the case of the south and Midwest, for instance, I always felt like a fish out of water. Don't get me wrong, I love the people, but I can't feel a sense of connection to the places. 

In Washington and Oregon, there's so much beauty and majesty all about you, that it's sometimes hard to take it all in. You get accustomed to it. I think this is part of the reason why it was so important to me to get the details right. I wanted to convey a strong sense of place in The Blood Cries Out.  The readers should feel like they are within the story.  They should be able to smell the salty air blowing off of the Puget Sound; the environment must add to the reading experience--not detract or distract.  Reader feedback suggests that I was successful.

I love Seattle. I attended Seattle Pacific University in the late 1980s, and I worked at the university as a staff member in the early 1990s. It's a special place, and I love the light and atmosphere of the city. I could spend a lifetime photographing it, but I never have the time these days to spend considerable time there.

Neil Low gives me the royal tour of SPD.
In the spring of 2011, we took a few days to visit areas of critical importance to the tale. This included the Seattle Police Department, where Neil Low graciously came in on his day off to give me a department tour. The tour was great, but, sadly, the Seattle weather was...a lot like Seattle weather.

Friday Harbor was that other western Washington area we visited on that 2011 vacation. The weather was lovely the first day, but things began going downhill on the second. It didn't matter much to me, though. It was wonderful to visit the island again. It had been far too long--and it has been so again! Some authors will say that that these kind of personal visits aren't necessary for fiction authors, but I think this kind of in-person research is terribly important if the writer is to successfully capture and convey the unique feeling of a particular environment.

Listen to a short author reading from the novel, which illustrates the importance of conveying a strong sense of place in fiction.

Watch a slideshow (on the book page) offering a unique perspective on all the research this novel required.

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