Friday, March 4, 2016

Using Your Setting as a Character by Felice Stevens

If you are familiar with my books you know that they are all set within New York City. I was born here, in Brooklyn (before Brooklyn became cool!) and though I've lived in other places, namely Binghamton, NY and Boston, MA, I've always known I'd return to New York City. 

One of the first things you learn is writing what you know and
since I know New York it never occurred to me to write about any place else. I love New York City and I love making her a character in my books. When you read my stories, I like to think I'm a tour guide, letting you feel the atmosphere as you read. In A Walk Through Fire, I tried to show the vast divide between  Red Hook,  where Drew opened his clinic, to the rarified air of Park Avenue,
where Ash lived. In After the Fire we spend time in Chelsea, at Jordan's brownstone and Luke visits the High Line to contemplate a future without Jordan. And In Embrace the Fire, I give you more of a taste of Victorian Flatbush, where Drew's beloved Nana lives, as well as Brandon's inner city public school.

Sometimes you have to be careful, because like a strong supporting character who fights for screen time with your main characters, writing about New York City could steal the show. In both Memories of the Heart and Betting on Forever, I take the reader on a sort of whirlwind through the city, from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, to the 9/11 Memorial, from Nathan's at Coney Island to kite flying along the Belt Parkway. All emotional, pivotal parts of the story with the background as much a part of the book as the words themselves.

Bringing the city into my books to play a part  of a story is a wonderful way to capture emotions and hopefully I've enabled readers to visualize the scenes on the page as they are reading. One day I'd love to have character cards made of certain pivotal scenes for some of the books: Micah and Josh at the 9/11 Memorial, Sam and Zach at the beach, Alex, Rafe and little Dylan at the Bronx Zoo and Marcus, Tyler and Lillie at Serendipitys. All iconic, New York City places and ones I hope you think about when you read my books.


  1. For some of who never have visited these places, the visuals you give us make us want to go see them