After twenty years of living in Las Vegas, I recently moved to Idabel, Oklahoma, a small town with a population under ten thousand, and am frequently asked "Why?" Who would leave the glamour, the beautiful weather, and interesting nightlife of Sin City for a town that is an hour away from a Starbucks? The easy answer is that I was offered a job that I couldn't resist, but in order to get that job, I had to apply, and I did so with the willingness to move if need be. So in effect, I did choose Oklahoma. Although I enjoyed my time in Las Vegas, I felt I needed a different view of the world, maybe a different way of viewing life in general.
When I write, setting is one of the first things I decide upon. I think where we are in the world, at any time, influences who we are, and, in a novel, setting helps us build our characters. The plot of "They Call Me Crazy" could have taken place anywhere, but the characters and the story itself would have changed.
Although I wrote the book while living in Las Vegas, I chose southeast Kansas for my setting. I am originally from the area so I was familiar enough to use the geography to my advantage. I needed rain, I needed a river and I needed characters whose lives were tied closer to the land than to the hustle of traffic or the bright lights of Las Vegas. I didn't want to dump a body in the desert; I wanted to bury him in wet earth.
This morning I sat on the front porch of the hunting lodge where I live and watched the sun rise. In Nevada, it was the sunsets that were amazing to see, but, now, the early morning has become my favorite part of the day. Usually, the sun hits the 1,800 acres that make up my backyard, and it looks like someone has sprinkled the trees with gold glitter. But this morning, with a storm moving in, the sun lit up the clouds and set them on fire. I watched them go from a deep red to a brilliant purple.
Yes, I could watch a sunrise from anywhere in the world, but it would be a different sunrise, and just as I could have used my basic plot in any setting, it would have been a different story. In my novel of life, I am the protagonist, and, when I moved to Oklahoma, it was because I needed a new setting. As the sun topped the clouds, it was as if someone had turned on a prowler light. The fiery display went through a spectrum of color, like a rainbow, as it tried to settle on one. And at that moment, I couldn't imagine being anywhere else in the world.
Get your copy of Kelly Stone Gamble's new release, They Call Me Crazy, from Amazon US (paper or ebook), Amazon UK (paper or ebook), or Barnes & Noble.