Marilyn Merdith, Author of Angel Lost
"A pervert threatens women joggers on the beach, a robber threatens wealthy homes on the bluff, and an angel watches over over the townspeople from a downtown window. F. M. Merediths' latest Rocky Bluff P. D. novel is a gentle human drama about loneliness and change, through which the reader is pulled, page after page, by an assortment of compelling criminal curiosities." -- C. N. Nevets
In the past few weeks, I’ve read some books by fairly new authors. In a few there has been an important element missing, the sense of place. Some of my favorite books are those that I feel like I know exactly what the area looks like where the characters are living, working, talking, and experiencing the things that are going on with and around them.
What I try to do when I’m writing a scene is to see it through the eyes of my point-of-view character. (In my Rocky Bluff P.D. series the POV character may change from scene to scene.) I want to be sure that the reader knows where that character is, what the place is like, perhaps the smells, and of course the weather.
In Angel Lost a lot of the action takes place during foggy mornings. Fog is wonderful for setting a mysterious scene. It swirls around, it hides what’s coming, and it can be frustrating. I’ve lived in a beach community much like Rocky Bluff and the fog is relentless at certain times of the year as it rolls in from the ocean and sometime seems to swallow up everything around.
Rocky Bluff is a beach community. The heroine of this story, Stacey Wilbur, must jog along the beach in the fog in an effort to catch a man who exposes himself to female runners. One of the members of my critique group gave me suggestions about how that would feel. And of course, anytime you’re near the ocean you’re going to smell the saltiness and hear the waves crashing against the shore. The sound of the waves blurs other noises, including if anyone is coming towards you on the beach.
The town of Rocky Bluff is not a real town, but I can see what it looks like in my imagination. A stream bed runs beside a rocky bluff that rises up like a cliff. On top of the bluff are expensive homes. They have no beach access, but many have spectacular ocean views.
In the older part of town, beach cottages, many in disrepair, are closest to the shore. The downtown areas with the shops and restaurants are located on the main drag, Valley Blvd. The rest of the town rises up the hillside with the freeway passing over. Orange groves and ranches are on the other side.
The police department is not only understaffed but hasn’t been upgraded with any of the new equipment the larger police departments have access to. Even the Chief’s Office is shabby, furnished with items the Chief has brought from his own home. (This whole situation makes it necessary for the RBPD to solve crimes in the old fashioned way—investigating and asking lots of questions. When necessary, outsiders will be called in to help.
When Stacey and her fiancé, Detective Doug Milligan, marry, they plan to live in Doug’s small Victorian, with its enclosed front porch and only two upstairs bedrooms. This means Doug’s renter, Officer Gordon Butler must find a new place to live as Stacey’s young son, Davey will need his own room.
Stacey has her dress for the wedding, a light blue gown of material that she describes as gossamer. Her dream for the ceremony includes the decorations for the church.
As things happen in the story, I hope that I’ve given enough of a description of the places that the reader can imagine much the same as what I envisioned in my mind as I wrote.
Even if an author is writing about a real place, not everyone has visited so it’s necessary to describe enough that the reader can visualize what the area looks like the characters inhabit. Sometimes, the setting can almost seem like another character. I hope that’s what I’ve done in Angel Lost.
Angel Lost will be available this month at the usual places, and for an autographed copy from my website http://fictionforyou.com/ and it will soon be available on Kindle and for other e-book readers.
F.M. Meredith aka Marilyn Meredith
F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of nearly thirty published novels. Her latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is Angel Lost. Marilyn is a member of Writers of Kern, EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com.