Today I'm pleased to introduce you to Luke Murphy, author of Dead Man`s Hand, who's sharing his thoughts about the importance of setting in a story. I especially enjoyed reading Luke's article as he and I chose Las Vegas, or Sin City, as locales for our recent novels.
How Important Is Setting in Fiction?
Guest Post by Luke Murphy
A lot of people wonder just how important the setting of a story is. I believe that the setting for any work of fiction is critical to how the book is accepted.
Choosing a city for your characters is crucial in not only entertaining readers who have decided to sit down with the book, but to me, it’s also a very important marketing tool when targeting the market of readers you have in mind.
I was born and raised (and still reside) in a small, rural town in Canada. When I mean small, I’m talking small (1200 people). So you would think that it would only make sense that I write a story that takes place in a small town, something I’m very familiar with. NO WAY!!
I’ve always dreamed big, and set high goals for myself. When I decided that I would write a novel with the goal of publication, I didn’t want to just write a book to have it read by friends and family. I wanted to write a novel that would be accepted worldwide, and be available for people everywhere. I wanted something that would be desired by people all over the world. That means I needed a setting in my book that interested people and they wanted to read about.
So that meant, for the setting, I needed a major market in the United States. Major American cities that have become popular in books are Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, New York, etc.
I chose Las Vegas, or as some people might call it, Sin City. Everyone is interested in this fast-paced, party-all-night lifestyle and city that is party-central.
I didn’t just choose this city on a whim. I had visited Las Vegas in 2000 with a buddy of mine and I instantly feel in love with the city. Las Vegas was the perfect backdrop for this story, glitz and glamour as well as an untapped underground.
Everyone knows about the bright lights big city that is Vegas, but for as much as we read and see about that side of Vegas, we seldom here about the other, darker side of LV.
I also have to admit that that my wife was pretty happy that I had chosen Las Vegas as my setting, since she joined me in my research trip (wink, wink). Nothing like being able to write-off a trip to Las Vegas (lol).
There is not a single moment in time when the idea for DEAD MAN’S HAND came to be, but circumstances over the years that led to this story: my hockey injuries, frequent visits to Las Vegas, my love of football, crime books and movies.
Dead Man’s Hand became real from mixing these events, taking advantage of experts in their field, and adding my wild imagination. The internet also provides a wealth of information, available at our fingertips with a click of the mouse.
What I learned most from my trip to LV is what is found outside of the “Strip”. Not all of Las Vegas glitters, and there are parts of the city just like everywhere else in North America. This is the part of the city that I wrote about—things you haven’t heard about in other books.
So I was fortunate enough to visit Las Vegas and do some real, on-site research for street names, hotels, casinos, venues, etc. All of my personal contact with people such as members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was done via the Internet/email/phone.
When I had completed the first draft of my novel and sent it to my agent for her revision notes, I had a very long phone conversation with her. Because this was my first novel, and the first time I had worked with an agent, I didn’t know about things like how is copyright infringements dealt with in fiction writing.
So, because most of this book is based on real places in Vegas, I had to make up names to protect myself. You will probably recognize the descriptions of certain hotels and casinos or restaurants in my novel, but those venues have had name changes just to be safe.
So how important is setting for you when selecting a book to read?
DEAD MAN'S HAND by Luke Murphy
What happens when the deck is stacked against you…
From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.
…and the cards don't fall your way?
When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.
What if you're dealt a Dead Man's Hand?
Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.
Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, three daughters and pug.
He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).
Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.
Praise for Dead Man's Hand
"You may want to give it the whole night, just to see how it turns out."
— William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Lincoln Letter
"Dead Man's Hand is a pleasure, a debut novel that doesn't read like one, but still presents original characters and a fresh new voice."
—Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Flower
"Part police procedural, part crime fiction, Dead Man's Hand is a fast, gritty ride."
—Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Hush