One of the first things I need to work out at the start of a new novel is where it’s going to be set. Choosing the location is important because it affects the whole vibe of the story. For example, a city setting will give things a tougher, more urgent feel than a small town. That said, each city is unique. Set the story in New York and you’ll get a totally different vibe than you’d get if you set it in Tokyo.
With Kiss Me Kill Me I knew from the word go that I wanted to set the novel in the US. That’s where most of my books have been set. The sheer size of the country means there’s a huge amount of cultural and geographical diversity. You want a frozen wilderness, look no further than Alaska. Sunshine with a Latin American influence? How about Miami? The other thing I knew was that I wanted to avoid the obvious cities like LA and New York.
For a time during the mid-nineties my parents lived in a small town just outside Portland, Oregon. I spent a month out there and fell in love with the city. It’s laidback and arty. There’s a definite hippy thing going on there, which worked for me. As a place for Dan and Zoe to live it was perfect. Dan has his tech company, and there are plenty of those out there; Zoe is a wannabe novelist, so I could see her gravitating towards the city.
The fact that I’d spent time in the city was another big plus. Yes you can write about a place you’ve never visited. I’ve done that plenty of times … and I’m not alone there. Plenty of writers do it. We make stuff up for a living. It’s what we do. That said, wherever possible I like to spend some time on the ground. The internet is amazing for giving you the facts about a place, but it has its limitations. In Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams tells Matt Damon: ‘I bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel’. That is so true.
I’ve been fascinated with America for as long as I can remember, so having the chance to spend a month out there was amazing. And it wasn’t like I was stuck in the rarefied confines of a hotel complex, My parents were living on a normal suburban street in a normal suburban neighbourhood. Their house backed onto a park where the Little League teams practiced. Just down the road there was one of those single-line rail tracks that you always see on films. You know the ones I mean. The rails are rusting and overgrown and the tracks stretch into the distance for as far as the eye can see. There were no tourists in the coffee shop I used to visit, just locals.
This trip was a perfect opportunity to find out what it actually smelled like in the Sistine Chapel. And what was really cool was that twenty years later I was able to revisit all those memories when I wrote Kiss Me Kill Me.
(c) J.S. Carol
James Carol is the bestselling author of BROKEN DOLLS, the first in a series featuring former FBI profiler Jefferson Winter. The novel was released in the UK in January 2014 to rave reviews and reached number 1 on the Amazon fiction and thriller charts. In addition James is writing a series of eBooks set during Winter’s FBI days. PRESUMED GUILTY is the first of these. Under the pseudonym J.S. Carol, he has also written a number of standalones. KISS ME KILL ME is the latest.
James was born in Scotland and moved to England in the early-eighties. At various times he has worked as a guitarist, sound engineer, guitar tutor, journalist, and a horse riding instructor. When he’s not writing, James can usually be found in a pair of headphones writing and recording music. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children.
For more information go to: www.james-carol.com
About Kiss Me Kill Me:
How far would you go to escape the one you love?
When Zoe meets Dan, he’s everything she is looking for in a man – intelligent, charming, supportive.
It’s only after they’re married that she realises that he’s controlling, aggressive, paranoid.
And there’s no way out.
Or is there?
Zoe knows she has to escape, but Dan’s found her once before, and she knows he can find her again.
But Dan has plans of his own. Plans that don’t necessarily include Zoe.
Be careful who you trust . . .
‘Will hook you from the very first page . . . You will think you know where it’s going – but you’ll be wrong.’ Rachel Abbott
Order your copy online here.