Is It a Crime To Kill Setting? by Kathy Stewart
The manuscript I’m currently working on, Clear Island Murder, is set on the Gold Coast in Australia and features the murder and attempted murder of two local psychiatrists. My detectives, Scott Ryder and Kimberley Stanton, have to race against time to apprehend a potential serial killer before he strikes again.
Recently, I was both lucky and privileged to receive feedback on my manuscript from Random House crime novelist, Jaye Ford.
Jaye is a former journalist turned best-selling author and her first novel, Beyond Fear, was the highest selling debut crime novel in Australia in 2011. Her second novel, Scared Yet?, was released on 1 March this year.
Overall, the feedback I received from Jaye was positive, and that’s a good thing because with 40,000 words already under my belt I would hate to have to start again! Had it been negative, though, I would have.
Jaye’s main advice was to make more of the rich setting provided by the Gold Coast. Strangely enough, from previous feedback I’ve had on my writing, setting and creating atmosphere are two of my strengths, but while writing this novel I’ve pared that right back and concentrated instead on dialogue and action to keep the pace moving.
It seems I have achieved the fast pace but I might need to go back and add more detailed setting to bring the Gold Coast to life for my readers.
So, the challenge is going to be to bring out the Gold Coast’s tropical weather, its heat and humidity followed by torrential downpours that split the heavens and cool moods and tempers, without bogging the whole story down in a soggy mess of sweat.
Fortunately, I have a lot to play with.
The Gold Coast is renowned for its sun and surf, its islands and endless waterways flanked by the mansions of the wealthy, its glitzy nightclubs and hotels, its cabaret and casino.
Alongside its glamour is the seedy side where drugs and crime are rife, and who knows what human predators could skulk amongst the mangroves?
But it also has the lush green of a hinterland filled with the shrill of cicadas, plunging waterfalls, the smell of eucalyptus oil, and the ear-splitting cry of the whip bird.
So, if I can follow Jaye’s advice accurately, I hope that by the time you’ve finished reading my book you’ll want to wipe the sweat from your upper lip and ease the shirt from your back, long to plunge into a sparkling pool or take a dip in a cooling ocean alongside beaches of golden sand.
I think you get the picture.
My thanks to Jaye Ford for such constructive and insightful advice.