Monday, February 24, 2014

Where in the world are...Elana Johnson, Amy Christine Parker, & Alan Gratz?

All this month, I'm featuring authors and the settings of their books, showcasing a variety of locales and characters from around the world--and sometimes off it!--in order to show readers new places and people.

Don't forget to enter the contest for a signed Across the Universe trilogy and swag from lots of authors--not just those featured this month! The contest is open internationally, and is super simple to enter--just tweet or share with a friend some of your favorite unique books, and enter in the Rafflecopter embedded below (or at this link).

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Elevated by Elana Johnson

Set in: An elevator!

Why did you pick this setting?
Several years ago, I was visiting a planetarium with my kids. We got on the biggest, hugest elevator you can imagine to go up to the sky room. An instant story idea popped into my head -- a girl gets stuck in an elevator with her ex-boyfriend.

And that's how ELEVATED was born. The entire book takes place in the elevator too.

What makes your book's setting unique?
I actually have a slight phobia of getting stuck in an elevator. And by "slight" I mean "major."



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Gated by Amy Christine Parker

Set in: An isolated gated community in Nebraska 100 miles from the nearest town. I never come right out and say it's Nebraska inside the book though.

Why did you pick this setting?
I set the book here because my character is part of a cult and the leader of that cult wanted to keep his followers as far away from the outside world as possible. Middle America has plenty of space and sort of riffs on the whole "Go west" pioneer mentality early Americans had, which is also why I chose to call my cult leader Pioneer.

What makes your book's setting unique?
Lincoln, Nebraska was the launch site of atlas missiles in the 1960's and so there are underground missile silos there. My community's apocalyptic bunker construction is a cross between a missile silo and a farm silo.

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Something Rotten by Alan Gratz

Set in: East Tennessee

Why did you pick this setting?
Something Rotten is a noir mystery take on Shakespeare's Hamlet. I'm a big fan of noir fiction, particularly the works of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Chandler's Philip Marlowe famously made the streets of Los Angeles his home, exposing the seedy dark underbelly of the "City of Angels." Hammett's books were less rooted to a particular place, but always seemed to be set in a gritty city. When I set out to turn Shakespeare into contemporary noir, the time and the characters weren't the only things I wanted to turn on their ears. I wanted to subvert too the idea of noir having to be set in a big city. So I deliberately chose to set Rotten in my own backyard in East Tennessee, where I grew up, to bring noir to rural Appalachia--a place I think is more noir than most people think!

What makes your book's setting unique?
My fictional "Denmark, Tennessee" was "rotten" figuratively, because someone had been murdered there. But I also wanted to make Denmark "rotten" literally, which I did by modeling it after Canton, North Carolina. Canton, NC is home to the Champion Paper Mill. (I think they changed their name to hide from environmental lawsuits, but it's still there.) If you've ever lived anywhere near a paper mill, you'll understand what I'm talking about right away--they stink. Bad. Like raw eggs or sulfur. It's part of the chemical process used to bleach paper white, and the smell travels for miles and miles and miles, depending on the weather. I've driven past Canton (and other paper mills in the south) enough to know one when I smell one, and I thought it would be fun to turn Hamlet's Elsinore Castle into the Elsinore Paper Mill. Now there's REALLY something rotten in Denmark. :-) To me, paper mills (and their attendant pollution) are part of my memories of growing up in the rural south.
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