Some people were talking about fiction the other day, and the topic got around to exotic settings. When asked about some of my favorited novels based upon the uniqueness of their settings, I couldn't help but respond.
Of course, you have to understand that "unique settings" are unique only to people who don't live in that place. Exotic Fiji isn't very exotic at all to a resident there. As for examples of my favorite settings, here's one that comes to mind. It starts out in Miami and quickly moves to exotic St. Lucia, where the son of a murdered woman marine biologist sets out to bring the killer to justice. In the process, he befriends a native chieftain, runs afoul of black voodoo, and stays two steps ahead of an overzealous suitor while falling in love with a woman who, it turns out, is his adopted step-sister! All ends well in the end, although not before putting the protagonist through some strangely harrowing and unexpected experiences.
The book is The Last Wild Orchid, which I not only read numerous times but also happened to write. It's one of my personal favorites. Go figure.
Another equally fascinating story by Paula Favage starts out in Milwaukee before quickly expanding to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the wilderness of the Hindu Kush mountains. It's high political intrigue as we follow the heroine around the world, searching for her lover who mysteriously disappeared, abandoning her to the wolves (quite literally) to discover that he was taken prisoner only to escape in order to save the woman of his dreams. The rest is dynamite non-stop action, and the descriptive settings range from serene to explosive.
Titled The Mynah's Call, it's an all-time modern classic and one read I'll never forget. Here's a peek at its cover.
Finally, another settings eye-popper has the heroine traipsing all around the country, trying to maintain her marriage while nearly losing her sanity in a whodunnit of phenomenal power. In her hectic travels, she spends time everywhere from a gold mine in the barren desert southwest and biking through the Black Hills of South Dakota to the plush confines of a wealthy suburban setting. Called The Devil in the Deal, it—like the two books before it—is fiction based upon a true story, and it's dynamite. Here's a look at it.
I enjoyed all three, and I think most people would agree that the settings help to "set" these volumes apart from the crowd. I hope you enjoy reading all three and let me know your thoughts. Until then ...
Smoke if you've got 'em.
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D. J. Herda is author of the new series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover formats at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere. You can check out his weekly column, "The Author-Ethicist," at Substack