I’ve dabbled in both real places and imagined spaces. Sometimes it’s fun to write about a place where the reader is familiar and knows what to expect, but other times it’s so much more fun to write about a completely new and made up place! Both have their benefits and their drawbacks. One takes more research to get every detail authentic and correct; the other takes more imagination to make a place “real” while still being completely fictional. Not necessarily easy in either case.
In The Hometown Hoax, my story takes place in the small town of Cutter’s Creek. It’s a completely fictional town set in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Why there? Why not?! LOL. I set the story there because I wanted a mountain town, not too far from New York City so my heroine could travel home, but not in New York State so her family wouldn’t say she could commute. Seemed like a good place to create a town, and I had so much fun doing it too! I loved creating a world that was all my own and was similar, yet different, than anywhere I’d ever been in real life, or read about in another book.
There are plenty of reasons to love imagined spaces over real places, but here are my top 5 reasons why I think readers and writers both love books with completely fictional settings:
1. Literally a blank page: For the author, creating an entirely made up setting is incredibly freeing! When was the last time you sat down and just made up a place in your head, complete with stores, people, street names, the whole thing? For some of us, that might be the last time you played make-believe with your kids. For others, it might be back when you were a kid! Take a second and just close your eyes and imagine your ideal place to live. Imagine what it would look like, smell like, feels like… Ah… Now imagine getting to live in that world that you created for as long as it takes you to write a book or possibly a series! Heaven.
2. No preconceived notions: Not a single reader has ever been to your town, city, country, or galaxy before! No one has any opinion on what it looks, smells, or sounds like. Every reader comes to the page with the same amount of knowledge of the place as the next. No one has past experiences there to tarnish their view of the location. No one has ever dreamed of traveling there because this place the author created is 100% imaginary! What will you find on the next street? Or in the next shop? No one knows! Well, no one except the author.
3. Endless possibilities: The author creates exactly what he or she wants the readers to see in their minds. Want a bicycle only city? Done. Need a giant waterfall two-stories high with a beautiful lake at the bottom to skinny-dip in? No problem! Anything the author could need or want for the characters or plot is available with a little imagination! Have a secret that can’t get out? Too bad that town gossip you just thought up was on the other side of the door from your characters while one of them spilled their deepest darkest moment with the other. Oh no!
4. Familiarity in the unfamiliar: No, your reader has never been to a town or city like the one your book is set in, but that doesn’t mean it might not feel familiar to them. It’s easy to insert qualities into the place the author creates to make sure the reader feels comfortable enough that they can be drawn into the world. You might read about or create a colony of characters on another planet, but if you give those characters a bed, a nightstand, and a closet—even ones made out of industrial-strength space slime!—it’s going to feel like a bedroom.
5. New Family & Friends: Sure, you just met some of these people in chapter one, but that doesn’t mean they don’t already feel like family and friends. They’ve drawn you into their little corner of the world and now a place that was new suddenly feels a little like coming home. You care about these strangers who took you inside their business, homes, and hearts. You care what happens next, not only to the characters, but to the town as a whole. When the love story ends for the hero and heroine, you imagine the town’s people going on and wonder how they’re all doing.
So tell me, did I include your reason for loving fictional settings in books? Which do you prefer reading (or writing!), books with real places or imagined spaces? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
If you’re interested in reading more about the imagined space of Cutter’s Creek that I created for the setting of The Hometown Hoax, then check out the blurb below!
About the Author:
Heather Thurmeier, best selling Amazon author, was born and raised in the Canadian prairies, but now she lives in New York with her own personal romance Hero (aka her husband) and their two little princesses. When she’s not busy taking care of the kids or fur-kids, Heather’s hard at work on her next romance novel. She loves to hear from readers. Heart, humor, and a happily ever after. You can find out more about Heather on her website or connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.
Leaving was hard, but staying away might be impossible.
Tessa Cutter escaped her tiny hometown and chased her artistic dreams straight to Manhattan. Now she’s home for a camping trip with her family. To keep them off her back, she makes up the perfect pretend boyfriend—successful, important, and most of all, permanently located in New York.
Logan Ridley lost everything when his Manhattan-based personal training studio shut down. Luckily, a friend got him a position as a gym teacher in the small town of Cutter’s Creek. He’s heard a lot about the infamous Tessa, but she’s even better than he imagined. Except, she seems to hate everything about the small town he’s growing to love.
The chemistry sparking between them is impossible to ignore, but falling for Logan will trap Tessa in the small town she worked so hard to escape. If they have any hope of a future together, he’ll have to convince her that everything she wants has been in Cutter’s Creek all along…
Find out more and where to purchase at Entangled Publishing.