Hi, all! Allow me to welcome fellow writer Liv Rancourt! She’s talking about weather and books!
I’ve been cruising the interwebs this morning, and it seems many, many people have opinions about the weather. Some are celebrating the fact that spring has sprung; others, not so much.
Sometimes it snows in April…
Prince had a point with that line. Of course, he was referring to how changeable relationships can be, but I want to take it in a bit of a different direction. When you’re writing, regardless of the length of the piece, the weather is as much a part of the setting as the rooms your characters move through.
Quick, which blond telepath likes to sunbathe in her bikini as soon as the sun comes out and considers a tan part of looking pretty?
Hint: Her ex-Viking boyfriend NEVER tans.
Charlaine Harris does amazing things with her Louisiana setting, making Bon Temps so realistic it just has to be on a map somewhere. As an example, there are a couple scenes in Definitely Dead where Sookie and Quinn are in her cousin’s New Orleans apartment, and the muggy heat reaches right out and grabs me here in soggy Seattle.
In Devon Monk’s Tin Swift: The Age of Steam, an awesome steampunk paranormal, the story is set in late fall somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and the cold weather becomes as much of a threat as any of the enemies Cedar Hunt and his friends are facing. It increases the tension, because not only to they have to get away from the bad guys, they have to do it before winter starts to get serious.
And no one can predict when that blizzard’s going to happen.
Because, like the line from Prince’s song, sometimes it snows in April, and you have to be familiar enough with your location to know the little quirks that’ll make it ring true. I had a good learning experience while at a wedding in Aspen, Colorado. I’d never been to that part of the country, but the late September sunshine was absolutely gorgeous – warm but not hot, blue skies, and gorgeous gold-leafed aspen trees everywhere. On our arrival, the bride and groom gave every guest a gift pack that included bottled water and Chap-Stick. See, between the altitude and the clear skies, the air was really dry. I’ve never been a bigger fan of Chap-Stick in my life.
As a writer, I wouldn’t have known that without experiencing it, though I don’t mean you have to physically travel to your location before writing about it. (After all, Stephanie Meyer did a pretty decent job creating Forks, WA without every visiting.) You do need to do enough research to nail the details, or at least some of the details, to make the setting ring true. Then make your Seattle gloom or your oppressive humidity or your threatening blizzard work for you, to add another dimension to your plot.
So what about you, lovely readers? Do you live in a place where it snows in April? How do you go about researching something as subtle as the weather for your stories?
Peace & sunscreen,
Sometimes you have to break the rules to do what’s right.
Liv Rancourt writes paranormal and romance, often at the same time. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. She likes to create stories that have happy endings, and finds it is a good way to balance her other job in the neonatal intensive care unit. Liv can be found on-line at her website & blog (www.livrancourt.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt).