Saturday, October 25, 2014

My guest: DJ Adamson on Setting

I'm welcoming DJ today, a writer I have something in common with. We're both deeply rooted in the Midwest, me in Illinois, she in Iowa. I love her comfortable description of the setting she uses for Admit to Mayhem!
-Kaye George

A Thought to Setting

My father, who wasn’t a writer but was a successful man, offered me some good advice. He said I needed to be able to see in my mind’s eye the subject I was writing about so clearly that I could almost touch it, in order for my reader to visualize the same to a degree they felt they had touched it.” This is why I set my Lillian Dove Mystery Series in Iowa.

 Not Europe, Asia, India, Paris, New York, Los Angeles? No, Frytown, Iowa.
            I wasn’t raised in Iowa but my family roots run deep there. And whenever I visit, I feel a stirring inside, a seeded core in me from family past who whispers, home. My family immigrated in the 1850s. I am German-French. Some of the original homesteads are still owned by family. No one but family has ever lived in my Great Grandmother’s house—although, after so long, it was rebuilt and modernized. There’s one small town outside Iowa City that when I walked down its streets as a child, I could say “Hi Cousin” and it would have been true.

      Admit to Mayhem’s Frytown is not a real city. It is an unincorporated community in Johnson County, Iowa, about ten miles southwest of Iowa City. The town has been known as Frytown since the 19th century. My parents pointed the area out where the grange once stood and said they always had a great time in Frytown, dancing. Both were raised on farms not far away.
            Lillian Dove’s Frytown is a mixture of several cities and towns in Iowa. I located it outside Iowa City and gave it a recreational lake. But the people are as real as I can make them in my mind’s eye. So real, they visit me often in my den while writing. I understand their values, the way they live, their understanding of life, and how they handle their problems, or hold secrets, or gossip about others.
            Lillian is forced to move to Frytown to take care of her convalescent mother, who doesn’t want to be convalescent and who was the enabler in Lillian’s alcoholic childhood. Dahlia is the key to a Lillian’s understanding and ability to take on life sober. Because, while she may have five years notched on her sobriety, she finds staying sober much easier than handling life’s problems.
             She finds herself in a real fix when she comes across a house fire and later finds she may be the only eye-witness to arson. As Lillian realizes that her life is in jeopardy, she becomes increasingly involved in a mystery: "If you continue to insist you saw someone, it could mean you’re an eye-witness to first degree arson, a felony
            Admit to Mayhem is the first book in the Lillian Dove Mystery Series. Book Two Suppose is set to be released in March.
In a nutshell, Admit to Mayhem is a well-rounded, engrossing read that creates a memorable, believable protagonist and uses her to immerse readers in a series of challenging probes that end not in court, but in the very human realm of motivation and twisted purposes. - Midwest Reviews

D. J. Adamson is an award-winning author. The second book in her Lillian Dove Mystery Series is set to release in March 2015. A SyFy-Mystery Serial, first book Jake’s Story is coming out this December. Her family roots grow deep in the Midwest and it is here where she sets much of her work. She juggles her time between her own desk and teaching others writing at two Los Angeles Colleges. Along with her husband and two Welsh Terriers, she makes her home in Southern California.


D. J. Adamson Author said...

Thank you for inviting me, Kaye. I have had many readers ask "Why Iowa?" Especially since I live in California. It's about time I explained myself!

Kaye George said...

I can easily see how you came to do that. I set a novel in the tiny place where my grandmother lived, though it's in the same state I grew up in. But it's a place I know (or knew back then) and love.

Morgan Mandel said...

I absolutely must like the protagonist first and foremost, but setting does play a huge role as well. I do enjoy cozies, with neighbors knowing everybody else's business, and also enjoy books set in busy cities. I'm not that into books set in foreign countries, maybe because I don't have an urge to travel far, even vicariously.

Cathy Shouse said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on setting. I'm from the Midwest and have been to California several times. I would think of California as more "exotic" for a setting, but you make a great case for Iowa! lol Best of luck with your book release.