Creating settings for That Was Then

When writing historical fiction, creating settings was all about diving into the historical record to understand how people lived in a long ago time, what they wore, how they travelled, where they lived and so on. I found this part of novel-writing fascinating because of all the history I learned in the process.

That Was Then is a contemporary thriller set in 2024. This is my world – today’s world, although I’m not the age of the main characters 🙂 It’s set mainly in New York City and Boston, places I’ve been to on a number of occasions, as recent as a few weeks ago in the case of NYC.

But, what does an NYC loft look like? What does a campaign office look like? What about Sag Harbor in late February or Boston Common in springtime or the coastline around Manomet? Thank goodness for Google Earth and bloggers and the thousands of photos you can find on the Internet or on sites like Pinterest.

For me, part of the writing process is to imagine myself in the places my characters inhabit as I write the dialogue and action that’s taking place. I need to know what my character can see from the window and what their bedroom closet looks like or what they have in the fridge or whether the stairs creak outside the front door. I need to know what distracts them, what scents they smell, and what noises they hear.

A few photos that have inspired me while writing That Was Then.

A restaurant in Sag Harbour:

A campaign office:

The layout of an NYC loft – for That Was Then, I eliminated the elevator, the master bathroom, and two small bedrooms and turned the ‘media room’ into a study with a Murphy bed. I located the loft on Prince Street.

The offices of a fictional magazine called The Carter Report. (If I recall, this is a photo of offices at The Atlantic, although likely out of date now.)

An ocean front home not too far from Manomet.

An outdoor area in Harvard Yard where students gather.

I have lots more, of course, but I wouldn’t want to give too many clues to the storyline! I hope I’ve tweaked your interest 🙂

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION – AND MARY’S NOVELS –  FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY. There’s a SUBSCRIBE function on the right hand side of the page.

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel is THE ADMIRAL’S WIFE, a dual timeline set in Hong Kong. Mary’s other novels, PARIS IN RUINS, TIME AND REGRET, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

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Meet M.K.Tod

The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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