Why I set my stories in New Jersey
I have good hair. I’m sorry. I don’t have to do much to it to get compliments. Sorry, really.
But that’s not the point of this article.
I’ve set all but two of my books in New Jersey. What does that have to do with my hair? Well, NJ is humid. Yes, even in the winter we can have 30 percent humidity. That’s why my hair does what it does. It has body. I can style however I want. It just behaves well here.
Which doesn’t mean much until you go to the desert.
I’ve recently been to Las Vegas and if you don’t know, it is in the Mojave Desert. The definition of a desert is that it receives, on average, 10 inches of rain a year. Maybe 10 percent humidity.
Wow, I need a drink of water just to finish this article.
And I didn’t have great hair when I was there. And I wouldn’t have known that if I’d never stepped foot off that plane. I couldn’t do anything with my hair. It stayed in a pony tail my whole trip.
My point is that I know New Jersey. I know the roads. I know the attitude. If I put my turn signal on anywhere else in America, someone will slow down and let me in to the lane. Not in NJ. Driving is a competition.
I know what kind of hero and heroine grow up in New Jersey.
I know what forces shape them.
You can do all the research you want, and I did lots before we left for the desert, but nothing can beat going there.
For instance, it was 80 degrees one day. Now that temperature in New Jersey is shorts weather. Not so in Nevada. I was quite comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt. No humidity. When I stepped into the shade it was actually cooler than in the sun. And the plant life is completely different. I have honeysuckle in my back yard. It has a great smell. I can use that in a story set in New Jersey. And, except for some poison ivy, I’ve never been attacked by a plant in this state. But in Nevada, a park ranger had to pull a cactus spine out of my hand.
All of these things can shape the atmosphere of my story.
Since I live in New Jersey, I set my stories here.
Because I can add the local color and flavor that the story needs to be authentic.
I can make others think they’ve been to the Garden State.
There are writers who can write about distant locations. I admire them. Maybe they even travel to those places. Boy, are they lucky. I don’t have that kind of freedom.
So that’s why I set my stories in NJ.
I write what I know.