Unusual Novel Settings with Jean Henry Mead
A novel setting is important because it not only adds color to the plot; it serves as a secondary character. People against nature themes have created countless adventures, from ”Into the Wild” to “The Old Man and the Sea.” Stranding someone in the middle of the Sahara Desert is far more challenging than having a car stolen from a city street, so novel settings should be given considerable thought.
My amateur sleuths travel in a motorhome about the West and settings change with each book. Although Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty began solving murders in their California retirement village, Dana inherited her sister’s mansion in Wyoming, a dramatic change of scenery. Both 60-year-old widows are feisty and determined to get to the bottom of each murder they encounter. They usually accept help from Dana’s journalist daughter and Sheriff Walter Grayson, who’s in love with Dana and pursues her throughout the Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series, no matter in which setting he finds her.
In my fourth and most recent novel, Gray Wolf Mountain, the setting is Wyoming’s Laramie Mountains, an area I know well because I live there on a small ranch with my husband and Australian Shepherd. I’ve also set a children’s mystery, Ghost of Crimson Dawn, on our ranch for the Hamilton Kids’ series. The possibilities are endless in the mountains and have provided me with the backdrop for a mystery which includes the unwarranted killings of wolves by trigger-happy hunters. I researched the problem here in Wyoming, and was shocked to learn that the situation exists in other states as well as Canada. Wolves are shot en masse from helicopters in the Yukon to increase the Caribou herds to 100,000, solely for the benefit of big game hunters. The Yukon is an unusual setting that few writers have ventured to write about.
I don’t go into graphic detail about the killings in the book, and because I live in sheep and cattle country, I briefly wondered why we should care about the wolves’ demise. Further research informed me that by killing keystone predators—wolves and grizzly bears—big game animals increase in number and subsequently consume most of the vegetation that smaller animals and birds need to survive. In other words, massive wolf and bear kills unbalance nature. So wilderness settings affect every living creature on the planet.
My themes usually encompass social problems and I incorporate humor and light romance to prevent the storyline from becoming dreary. By setting each plot in an unusual area, it hopefully enhances reader awareness and interest by educating as well as entertaining them.
Gray Wolf Mountain is available in print and on Kindle.
I'll be giving away a copy of my recent release, Gray Wolf Mountain, fourth novel in the Logan & Cafferty series, to a visitor who leaves a comment during the blog tour. The winner will be announced at my blog site: http://mysteriouspeople.blogspot.com/ December 11.
Jean Henry Mead is the author of 18 books and is a national award-winning photojournalist, published domestically as well as abroad. Her Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series consists of A Village Shattered, Diary of Murder, Murder on the Interstate and Gray Wolf Mountain. Her Hamilton Kids’ mysteries include Mystery of Spider Mountain and Ghost of Crimson Dawn. She also writes western historicals. Escape, a Wyoming Historical Novel, has been her bestselling book to date, and will soon be followed by No Escape, The Sweetwater Tragedy. Her nonfiction books include interviews with celebrities and bestselling authors as well as history books, one of which served as a college textbook.