This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
I love New York. It's one of my favourite cities to visit and so it isn’t surprising that I’ve set two of my novels there. I’m not the only British writer to set my books in the city that never sleeps. A quick glance at my chick lit bookshelves and I can see books set in New York by Carmen Reid, Sophie Kinsella, Louise Bagshawe and Miranda Dickinson – and those are only the shelves in my lounge. And it got me thinking, am I just a giant clichéd writer jumping on a bandwagon, or is there another reason that New York, New York is calling?
As a reader I love books set in New York with a British protagonist, I’m a sucker for them. I’m drawn to all that excitement and glamour attached to the City and I think it makes an absolutely perfect backdrop to a chick lit novel.
My eBook Millie and the American Wedding had to be set in the US – funnily enough with that title. I went to university in Pennsylvania, whilst there I did a lot of travelling and road trips, and since then I’ve been back a lot to visit friends. I could have picked pretty much any American city I’d visited to set the novel in as many of the confusions between the British and American characters could have worked in any of those cities. But I picked New York. The novel I’ve just finished is also set in NYC. My main character had to be on a business trip in the US and there's a cheesy scene in the Empire State Building. I could have written it a top any high tower – Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago, the Space Needle in Seattle – but I again chose New York.
So what is about the City – why am I obsessed with it?
I came across the answer on the Madeleine Milburn Agency’s website. Madeleine had written tips for writing bestselling fiction and one of the tips said 'set genre fiction in cities that readers can relate to such as London or New York'. And that was it for me, it was like a cartoon light bulb had pinged above my head. I wasn’t just setting it in New York because I’ve visited it often, but because its so well known in popular culture that it helps the reader to imagine where the novel is taken place. I’m sure if I wrote about those criss-crossing fire escapes hanging off a building, you’d instantly be able to picture it (and if I’m feeling psychic I’ll guess you might be thinking the exterior shot of the apartment block in Friends). It means that the story can move along quickly without having to get too bogged down with place descriptions.
I had been beating myself up for being lazy writing about New York. But maybe there was more method in my madness then I realised!
Tell me, Where do you set your novels? Do you have a favourite setting?