Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blahs and Anxiety

There has been so much snow in the last few weeks that I'm ready for Winter to be!
I'm sore from shovelling (which is rather and cold all the time! The blahs have done wonders for my writing though.

I came up with a new idea for a blog. Completed up to chapter 21 of Peaches (although I'm not quite finished chapter 14) and even started in on a new secret project.

I guess it's the hibernation that's got my creativity skyrocketing.

I had a thought about authenticity though.

I've read some great books, by some great writers that are based in cities or countries not their own. My stories have always been that way. I have stories based in Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minnesota, the Caribbean--just to name a few. But I've never written a story based in Toronto, Canada. I love my city, but writing about it just seems too easy I guess.

I wonder if its possible to maintain authenticity when you've never been to or lived in the city you're writing about. With all the research you might put in, is it possible to be authentic without being too cheesy, stereotypical or obvious.

I--not being Southern--run the risk of massacring my lastest project before it's even finished. Charlaine Harris--being a Southern gal--writes with believable poise, while Tess Gerritsen--not being a New Englander (not originally anyway)--does the same without being stereotypical.

Okay so maybe Miss Tess isn't the greatest example considering she has lived in Maine for some time now. Having never been to Forks though, I can't determine whether or not Twilight truly reflected the town.

Cecily von Ziegesar has admitted that Gossip Girl is based on her experience at The Nightingale-Bamford School. While Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars is supposed to be "loosely based on her experiences growing up on Philadelphia's Main Line"(although it was originally developed as a television series and given to her to develop in to a book series--hence the "loosely based" I guess).

I don't know, I guess my big fear is that I'll be perceived as trying too hard or not even coming close. There are some things about my character(s) that I can relate to, which is what makes them authentic. But there's also a heck of a lot of fiction thrown in their just for fun. I hope I can pull it off.

Maybe I'm over thinking this. Maybe (and hopefully) I'm not the only one who does!


  1. The settings for my stories are normally made up cities (LOL), that way I can kind of do my own thing. But the places that I use that are real, I do massive amounts of research on. I even contact the City Commerce to send me brochures. So far I haven't seen anything unbelievable (if that helps).

    Great post...

  2. I think it just depends on how much of the city's essence is part of the story. Like Candace Bushnell's stories based in NYC, the city itself is almost a character. Same for Cassandra Clare and NYC, though based on her view of London in her latest series, she must hate that city.

    I think the city can be done right if you do your research. The one thing that I would say, is that vibe is largely based on being in the city. For instance, Portland, is laid back and friendly. I don't think you can get the vibe right without having been here. But again, if the city isn't almost a character, you can totally get away with it. Besides, writing about a new city and researching it, can be fun and like a little vacation from your desk! So I would say go with it. :)