Evonne – Don’t go there!

Where-ever they are, writers tend to look for ideas and settings they can use.  I’ve been spending a disproportionate amount of time lately in inhospitable places, like waiting rooms. Which has led me to the conclusion that there are some places that are unlikely ever to feature as a setting in any novel I might write.

  • Hospitals – I know these are very popular in books and on TV – I have even been known to watch a few of those, particularly ones with favourite actors in them, but as a main setting they are not for me. Short scenes, where necessary, yes – a whole book? No way.
  • The great outdoors – There seems to be a high level of interest lately from some of my favourite authors for books that feature hero and heroine battling against the elements, using their survival skills to, well, survive. Again, not for me. And especially the great outdoors with creatures in it. Anything small and fluffy that will sit on your lap is fine – anything with more than four legs, or which is bigger than me and has sharper teeth – no.
  • Sporting venues – Yes – there will probably be an upsurge in these, after the Olympics and I will be there, cheering them on, but I won’t be writing them. Anyone who once witnessed my attempts at school netball will perfectly understand this.
  • Caves and other small spaces – although I must say that  I am considering trapping a future hero in a coffin – but I will not be following the example of crime writer Peter James and experimenting myself. I can imagine all I need, thanks very much. Caves, being dark, wet and cold, at least in this country, tick all my boxes for places I do not want to be.
  • Eras with no satisfactory indoor plumbing –  this is a border line one, as I have to admit to having written historicals and hoping one day to write more. I don’t think I will ever be venturing into the historical based on real life characters – too much nitty-gritty to contend with.

As you will have gathered, I’m a fair weather romantic thriller writer – I like glamorous places, warmth, and comfort. Then I like to throw a spanner in the works, and watch my characters cope, in a setting that should be idyllic. I get the nice stuff, they get the headaches. Works for me.

We all have our preferences. I’m sure my ‘don’t go there’ list would be the top preferred locations for a lot of other writers. Being different is part of the fun of reading and writing.

So – anyone else have a setting to shudder at? Or is it just me than?

14 thoughts on “Evonne – Don’t go there!

  1. You’ve got me thinking this morning Evonne – I’ve never asked myself this question before. Underground – that coffin one for eg – would be my idea of hell – or a character as a pot-holer! Deep water too. Yep shudders were on cue. Although I would be unllikely to place my novels in ‘don’t go there’ settings – agree with you – why put yourself through it – I may well stick them in such a setting for some moments of high drama. I’m a bit sick like that in that I like exposing my characters to their fears. Don’t think even I would trap a hero in a coffin though Evonne. Serious shudders. Sx

  2. I’m a sadist – I send my characters to all sorts of places I wouldn’t want to go, like battle zones and squalid boarding houses and there’s some action in a hospital in the WIP. I don’t do horrible and/or incurable diseases, though – I’m not that cruel.

  3. Definitely no enclosed spaces, I’m with you on that, Evonne! And not heights, can’t stand being up inside tall buildings and wouldn’t be caught dead on the London Eye for example. And no creepy crawlies either, yuck!

  4. You will never catch me or any of my characters on a golf course. Especially not in pastel-coloured polo-shirts. I’m also certain that you’ll never find us at a panto. Oh, goodness, now all kinds of horrible places are suggesting themselves to me – Mandy, do you remember Mr Den Tist? And Mr Guy… no, no more!

  5. Yes, Christine, Mr Den Tist makes me shudder lol and as for Guy…! Evonne, I can think of public toilets, a factory, a sewer and a coal mine. But I can’t think of any unglamorous ones! 😀 x

  6. I loooove everyone’s suggestions. Didn’t think of heights – I do have a fondness for pushing people off tall buildings – not in real life, I hasten to add. Maybe we should try one of those round robin novels and include all of them?

  7. Great post, Evonne! It made me think of Lee Child’s hero Jack Reacher, who has been through most of the horrors already mentioned. I don’t mind reading about it when I’m snuggled up in bed …

  8. For me, never ever a setting in a butcher’s shop or an abbatoir. Yeugh.

    I’m also very sensitive to smells so my characters are too. Anyone who writes a love scene inside a stable has perhaps never had to muck out a horse’s stall.

    One novel I read had the heroine spending some time in a milking shed having normal conversations with people. Whenever I used to go into my uncle’s milking shed, I would come out retching.

    Lucky I’ve already eaten my dinner!

    P.S. I love horses – and most animals. But not their settings.

  9. A friend of mine came from a farm where they had a very unusual floor in the stables, one of only a handful in the country. It’s was basically wide slats with gaps inbetween which were narrow enough not to trap any hooves, but wide enough for urine and faeces to fall through. Underneath the floor was a half-height space (about 5 feet) with a drain for the wee and pooh “soup” to run out into a collection tank (it would later be used on the fields).

    However, sometimes that drain got blocked, and you had to put fisherman’s waders on and go down there to unblock it. A crust would form on top of the “soup”. Rats would use it as a high-way.

    I’ll say no more….

  10. There are some wonderful suggestions – thanks, ladies – now where is my thriller writer’s notebook? As long as I can just imagine them …

  11. Shelob’s Lair in LOTR made me shudder, but I think that was the idea. I can’t bear spiders, but I’m probably not a true arachnophobe because I watched the movie Arachnophobia – and shuddered right through it. I guess I’d rule out a jungle setting, unless it was a snakeless jungle. Snakes are a no-no. Evonne, you are seriously sadistic if you’re trapping someone in a coffin.

  12. I always find caves quite warm (I think they’re all set somewhere around 15 degrees, aren’t they? That’s warm when you live in my house…) so I don’t have a problem with caves. But add me to the list of ‘no confined spaces’, I’ll take all the animal pooh you’ve got over a crawl space, any day.

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