As I was growing up, I always had the urge to write. But the thing that was holding me back was that the majority of the novels I read had an American setting. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore etc. How was I ever going to write anything that anyone would be interested in if the only setting I could possibly write about with any authority was Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I mean really. Aside from a brief mention in ´The Bourne Identity´ I had never read the slightest bit of fiction based in my hometown.
And with good reason. If New York is the city that never sleeps, then Ottawa is the city that never wakes up. Crime, Espionage, Political Intrigue? Too damn cold. It´s a Government city and at the time I lived there, not much exciting ever went on. This was the town that Rock stars visited twice in their careers – once on their climb to fame and once on their farewell tour.
And in my opinion, setting is a huge part of your story. Not that I spend page after page on description – I leave that to the reader. But it is essential in my mind for the reader to believe that the story that unfolds could happen in the setting provided. I guess there is a bit of cultural domination mixed in to my opinions here. After all, the big market is the US and the US in a large part wants more stories of New York, Chicago etc.
Then I read an article the other day which stated that the INDIE Self pub revolution has opened the doors for a multicultural awakening. It has become commonplace for INDIE writers to set their novels in unknown places that might not have been written about or seen publication via traditional publishing. So I guess I am in good company.
I still haven´t gotten around to writing a story about my hometown Ottawa and probably never will but my adopted home, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico plays a big part in all my stories. It is really the unannounced main character and protagonist. The city and its diversity, the challenges we face every day, the corruption, the good and the bad people, the attitudes (both good and bad) the history, the weather, the mountains, the culture – all of this goes into all of my stories.
It´s as fascinating as it is frustrating to live here. Hell, I´m stuck with it (except as I´ve said many times, if I hit the bestsellers list … then Riviera Maya here I come) I own a home, have family and have built a network of professional connections. So I’m staying.
Add to that the daily headlines coming out of Monterrey. Gist for the mill. I’ve added many real life events into my stories to great effect. With any luck, the city will provide me with more stories in the future.
David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.