Location, Location, Location

Location, Location, Location

The most important part of any work of fiction is where the whole mess takes place. New York. Detroit. Hogwarts. An island somewhere in the Indian Ocean. A TARDIS. A space station that ‘just grew’.

From the mundane to the fantastic, the location where the story takes place more or less dictates the story.

I know I want Murder Dollhouse to take place in a city with at least forty-two precincts. As a nod in the general direction of the late, great, Douglas Adams. Other references will sneak in there eventually. I definitely am committed to sneaking in at least one lyric from Steam Powered Giraffe.

I know my Beloved is following a book series where the author just peppers their narrative to references with everything nerdy. If they can get away with it, I can certainly pop in a few more side-flings to the things I love.

But I digress.

My problem is that I don’t know enough about the United States to plausibly write anywhere in there. Even though I have side-plans for a liminal town in the US called One Horse that’s all the best parts of The Addams Family and Eureka. Or, perhaps, the Amnesty Lodge in Kepler. But that’s another story for another time. Or if y’all are interested in any of that.

As a resident of Australia, I have the natural tendency to assume that all is as it is in my lovely, disaster-stricken country. So whenever I do actually try to write America, it ends up with laws that make sense to me, but don’t actually exist… and procedures that happen only in Law and Order.

So I might as well make up a sizeable island somewhere in the Pacific Oceans. Something between the British Isles and New Zealand in terms of land mass. Old volcanoes because it is a Pacific Island. Terraced towns scattered all over the place and the capital, where the majority of the story takes place, is a port town with some neighbouring beaches. One of those places that’s perpetually changing because industry moves on and the plot requires it.

It would definitely be one of the many places invaded by Britain at some point during the 18th or 19th centuries. And then taken over by the US because it was temporarily convenient. And then abandoned by both because they were far enough from everything to be inconvenient when war was no longer the issue.

The economy would be as a stop on some trading routes. Importing and exporting to and from neighbouring island chains. Possibly including a traditional, annual race/gifting thing between them and an island chain where the winner gets all the Poi. Mostly because I want some old-school Polynesian canoe/catamarans in the mix. Or the potential for the same.

The local culture is the almost universal mix of assorted invaders plus remnants of the Old Ways. Much like most Pacific Islands everywhere. The ones that are still above the water, anyway.

I can add in a little bit of the political about greater landmasses being able to ignore climate change, but smaller ones just plain can’t. Part of the background atmosphere would be the refugees from smaller, sunken islands coming to the shelter of the larger ones.

Boat cities would be forming. New criminal elements and whatnot. The island(s) police would need to clear crimes better, including the old, cold ones. Which is why our antagonistic protagonist is sent to Precinct 42 in the first place.

That makes it far more plausible and gives the whole thing life. Which is what a good series needs. Little details and world-building.

Now all I need is a name for the place. And no, Mrs Ethel J. Bundy’s Birthday Island isn’t going to cut it.