Setting the Scene—A Strip Mall of Worship

When done correctly, the setting can take on a life of its own. One of my favorite examples of this is from the Harry Potter series of novels. The moving staircases, the animated portraits, the floating candles in the dining hall. Not many words were necessary to bring Hogwarts to life, but the setting became a vital component of the series for me, nonetheless.

In my current WIP, I’ve created a fictional town called Corinthia set on the seaboard of Rhode Island. I named it Corinthia because I’ve based the trilogy quite loosely on the famous biblical quote:

1 Corinthians 13: 13 — As it is, these remain: faith, hope, and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.

Describing Corinthia has been fun for me because for the first time, I’m describing a place not even remotely based on Western Pennsylvania. The first novel I wrote, Mystery Heir, was written on spec. The city already existed, and it was kind of like Anytown, USA. So I just pictured my hometown, kept the descriptions pretty vague, and ran with it. The Cathedral Lake series is set in the fictional town of Cathedral Lake, but in my mind, it’s in Western PA. And there’s nothing fictional about the Medici Protectorate series. Pittsburgh is right on the front cover of the very first book. We don’t stay there, but we start there. Even Love Set in Stone takes place in the Steel City.

Corinthia is different.

Corinthia is giving me the chance to stretch my writerly wings and create something from scratch. I feel like Norman freaking Rockwell. Maybe it’s a bit cliche the way I imagine New England, but it wouldn’t have the rep if there wasn’t some truth to the beauty of it, right?

Of course, not everything about New England is apple orchards and Kennedy’s Camelot.

I have created a long boulevard—let’s call it Worship Row—of churches, temples, synagogues… all at one end of town. Just one long, winding street dotted with nothing but worship houses and burial grounds. It’s, well, let’s just say most towns don’t have a street quite like that.

When Brenden McCall discovers it, he’s perplexed by it. The reason the town is laid out that way? Well, it’s a mystery.

Just one of the quirky things I’ve come to love about Corinthia.

Whispers for Faith comes out later this year. I hope the setting comes to life for you like it has for me, and I hope you choose to check it out. Maybe this little tidbit above has piqued your interest.

If not, maybe the following little snippet will:

The church was one of several houses of worship on a long, winding, tree-lined avenue. They stood like statues, dotting the street—sculptures in God’s garden. Brenden had never seen so many denominations lined up near each other, separated only by parking lots, parks, and what he thought were private lane entrances. Only on closer examination did he realize those iron-gated paths were actually driveways into cemeteries. Catholic next to Lutheran. Across the street and down a bit, Methodist beside Baptist. Farther on, Nazarene, Presbyterian, Apostolic. A few non-denominational buildings he could only identify by crosses on their doors and street-side marquees with Biblical quotes. Near the bottom of the hill, two elaborate structures stood across from each other, and a third—the most ornate of the three—capped the cul-de-sac. As he turned around, he realized they were Muslim, Hindu, and Jewish temples.

It was the strangest street he’d ever traveled. Kind of like a strip mall for worshipping. If the street hadn’t been so beautiful, the area so tranquil and peaceful, he’d have found it tawdry. Instead, he was surprised.

He found it comforting.

So there’s your first look at Whispers for Faith. Stay tuned. There are a lot of releases coming your way this year, and this is only one of them.

So what do you think? Settings? Do they make or break a book? Can you take ’em or leave ’em? Are you a plot person? A character person? Need it all? Let’s talk about it.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. I love the idea of the New England states. Been to several, many during my sting in the soccer world. There is so much that can be done with that setting. I can picture walks on the beach, Sailing around the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard, just to name a few. I look forward to reading Whispers for Faith.

    To me, the setting is important. Who wouldn’t love a good beach theme? This gives the characters more depth, as they must react to the surroundings.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Staci Troilo says:

      I’m not sure why, but I’ve got a thing about lighthouses lately. I think I miss Hilton Head. I don’t know. But this series has been a roller coaster for me so far. You know I’ll keep you posted!

      Like

  2. Mae Clair says:

    I love the eastern seaboard. Most of my experience is with Maryland and Delaware but I’ve been to Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I’ve set one of my novels along the coast and loved creating a fictional town for the setting.

    I love a good setting and often that alone will attract to a novel. Whispers for Faith sounds super intriguing. The mystery of all those churches and cemeteries already has me wanting to dive in. Congrats on another upcoming release. I look forward to it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Staci Troilo says:

      Some day I’d like to hop in my car, drive to the tip of the States, and just spend a leisurely summer winding my way down the NE coast, of course, I’d spend autumn in Pittsburgh, catching all the Steeler games (box seats would be ideal). Some Pens and Bucs games wouldn’t be bad, either. I’d do Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families, then bid everyone a bittersweet goodbye and head home to avoid the worst of the winter weather. A girl can dream!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Joan says:

    You are really staying busy this year! Love the idea of a book set in New England. Although I’ve never visited that part of the states (its on my bucket list), I’ve wanted to write a story set in that area. Need to do my research!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Staci Troilo says:

      It’s on my bucket list, too, Joan. I haven’t been there, either, unless you count New York. (And since I’m writing about Rhode Island and I was in Buffalo, in this case, I don’t.)

      Liked by 1 person

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