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Locations as characters

Okay, I'm Australian and I don't make any excuses for that! But also, I don't make a big deal out of it either.

Someone asked me once which city Heller was set in and I told them that the first book sort of hinted that it was set in Sydney (because of reference to the harbour and the harbour-side hilly city zoo). But I have been deliberately vague about locations in both series of books.

Why?

Maybe it's just because I'm growing increasingly cranky as I get older, but I am really starting to dislike books that spend half their word count telling us exactly where the heroes or villains are. And I mean exactly, as in they drove down this street and crossed this intersection and parked in this strip of shops that had this restaurant in it. It's as if the GPS lady is invading my reading.

Who cares? Frankly, not me. If I wanted to follow a real street route, I'd use Google Maps or buy a street directory. If I wanted a tour of New York or LA or where ever, I'd get a guide book. Or better still, I'd buy a plane ticket and find out for myself. I don't want to read about it in fiction. And I do appreciate that this might be a minority opinion (most of my opinions usually are!).

Let me be blunt. It doesn't matter in which city the Heller series is set. It could be your city, it could be mine. As long as everyone understands that the books are set in a city big enough to support a number of security firms, the exact location is irrelevant. The location is not a character in that series.

In the Little Town series though, the location is important. But again, I've been deliberately vague. Little Town and Wattling Bay (both imaginary places) are critical to the plot of the story, particularly the isolation of Little Town. I don't think that it detracts from the story that I haven't set them in a real Australian location, but I'm happy to be corrected about this by readers.

It's just escapism, after all. I've only just recently decided to not finish a book by an author I previously enjoyed because I was bored of all the detail about the locations and churches in NY. I don't care - I wanted more interaction and banter between the characters that I liked, not a guided tour that I wouldn't have paid for if I'd been a tourist.

JDN 20 August 2011

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