There’s been a lot of discussion among the author communities I belong to about whether or not to reflect COVID in one’s stories. Most have decided, as I have, that readers are looking for an escape from the pandemic and so have chosen not to include it explicitly, although there’s still the tricky question of whether to describe actions that might take the reader out of the story. For example, do you have characters hug? Shake hands? How do you handle a scene in a crowded room? I used the phrase “doom scrolling” in the draft of Ann Kinnear Book 4 to describe a character obsessively reading news coverage of a friend’s death, but I’ll probably change that because I think it’s so closely tied to current events.
I’m also coming up to a tricky decision as I begin to think through the next Ann Kinnear novel. I’ve had a story percolating in my head for a couple of years now and I’d love to use it for the basis of AK5, but it would almost have to take place in New York City. That’s a trip I’m not willing to take, and I can’t imagine that I would be able to do the needed research online. Researching Mount Desert Island, Maine, online is different because I’m generally just reminding myself of details of places I’ve been; the NYC storyline would require me to construct settings based on some places I’ve never been, or have only visited once, which would be quite different. It may be that Ann’s next adventure takes place in my own home base of Chester County, PA, as was the case for Book 1: THE SENSE OF DEATH and Book 3: THE FALCON AND THE OWL.
I’d love to hear how you’re handling these types of decisions and issues related to choosing settings for your own work: please leave a comment to let me know!
Matty Dalrymple is the author of the Ann Kinnear Suspense Novels and is the principal at William Kingsfield Publishers.