Setting Sight Unseen
Thank you to Open Skye Book Reviews for hosting me today on The Gryphon King’s Consort blog tour! I wanted to chat a bit about the setting for the book—and wax poetic about how useful the internet is when you’re deciding where to locate a story.
When you’re writing a book set in the real world, you’ve got a decision to make: are you going to set it in a place that actually exists, are you going to make up the city or town, or are you going to create a fictional town based on an actual one?
My favourite approach is normally number three, since this gives you the freedom to take a space you know and make it your own. But it really only works for small and obscure locations. You wouldn’t want to use a city like Toronto, for example, because it’s distinctive and unique in Canada, and it will look weird to readers if you’re trying to pass off Toronto as Not-Toronto.
However, when I wrote The Gryphon King’s Consort, I knew I wanted to set it in an actual city, because it made sense for the royalty of the Mythos Kingdom to live in a prominent, real place—a large, multicultural city with a lot of history. I considered setting it in my hometown of Ottawa, but I’d already set my first book here, so I wanted to do something different. I settled on Montreal.
Problem: I’ve never actually spent much time in Montreal.
Of course, we live in the future, so that didn’t hold me back. I used Google Maps Streetview to start my research. Originally, I thought I would set Luca’s royal estate in the centre of the city on Mont Royal, but I decided that was a little too pompous. So I started exploring the surrounding area. I searched real estate listings for mansions to see where those types of houses are typically situated in Montreal and the surrounding area, and I discovered a gorgeous house in Senneville, on the shores of Lac des Deux Montagnes. (You can see the pin for it on my Pinterest board for The Gryphon King’s Consort, though the real estate listing no longer exists.) This gave me the inspiration for not only the location for Luca’s estate, but the sort of house it might be.
When Luca’s limo is interrupted on Autoroute 20 by a wayward gryphon, I used Streetview again to get a sense of what the surroundings might look like so I could describe the landscape accurately. That’s another great use for this resource—getting a feel of a particular area. Is it desolate? Rundown? Elite? Well-kept? All of these clues can help you paint the picture of this space in your readers’ minds, without you ever having to set foot in that area.
I have a ton of works in progress where I’ve used Google Maps to help me determine what a neighbourhood or street looks like. When you’re writing in a contemporary setting, particularly one you can’t easily visit in person, this is an essential tool. Obviously going to your planned setting in person is best, so you can experience it fully, but when that’s not possible, Google can help you bring a setting you’ve never seen to life.
Love takes flight.
The sudden death of the Gryphon King throws the kingdom of Mythos into uncertainty, and Crown Prince Luca rushes both his coronation and an arranged marriage to a man he’s never met. Eirian is young and idealistic, and while they both want what’s best for their people, their philosophies couldn’t be more different. While Luca believes in honoring tradition, Eirian is determined to infuse modern values into their kingdom of magical creatures. When given the choice between loyalty to his husband and his own crusade, Eirian makes a decision that might doom their marriage.
Still, Luca is committed to making their union work, and that means forgiving his brash consort. But when Eirian becomes the target of a deadly conspiracy, Luca must act fast—or forever lose the chance to explore their burgeoning love.
Jenn Burke has loved out-of-this-world romance since she first read about heroes and heroines kicking butt and falling in love as a preteen. Now that she’s an author, she couldn’t be happier to bring adventure, romance, and sexy times to her readers.
Jenn is the author of The Gryphon King’s Consort from Dreamspinner Press and the co-author of the critically acclaimed Chaos Station science fiction romance series (with Kelly Jensen) from Carina Press. She’s also the author of Her Sexy Sentinel, a paranormal romance from Entangled Publishing.
She’s been called a pocket-sized and puntastic Canadian on social media, and she’ll happily own that label. Jenn lives just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and two kids, plus two dogs named after video game characters…because her geekiness knows no bounds.
Thank you so much for joining me on The Gryphon King’s Consort blog tour. Enter for your chance to win one of two $25 store credits for Dreamspinner Press!