Guest Post: Does Location Matter in Crime fiction by Run Author Jackie McLean @JackieJamxx @Lovebooksgroup


DI Donna Davenport and her team are under pressure.

With the hunt on for the country’s most notorious cop killer and an ongoing complex international investigation, the murder of a local thug during a football match is the last thing the police need.

But as more incidents overload the police, and fear brings vigilante mobs onto the streets, suspicion grows that the mayhem is being orchestrated.

One man can make it stop. With the city heading towards chaos and disaster, Donna prepares to abandon caution and the rules, even if it means she is ostracised by her own team.

Guest Post by Jackie McLean:

Does the setting for a crime fiction novel really matter? Isn’t it the plot and the characters that make the story? Well, they do - of course - but as a reader and as a writer, the location matters a lot, too. In fact, when I’m choosing a book to read, the setting is sometimes the deciding factor, since one of the joys of reading is in being transported to somewhere else, and to have a nosey at people’s lives in places that might be difficult for us to visit in person. 

An example is The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri, which I read recently. I loved so much about this book, from its eye-opening descriptions of the horrors experienced by people fleeing their homelands and trying to reach safety, to its endearing insight into the complex lives of honey bees. But I was also fascinated by its descriptions of Aleppo before it was ravaged by war. I had never imagined what a beautiful city this was, and am glad to have learned a bit about it, although sad-dened by what has happened to it since. This is a perspective I only gained through reading the book.
Setting is important to me as a writer, too. I wrote my first novel, Toxic, because I wanted to write a story set in my home town (Arbroath), and not that I necessarily wanted to write a crime novel. My second novel, Shadows, is partly set in Turkey.

Initially, I had chosen Cuba to be the setting for the international part of Shadows. I had access to plenty of detail about life in Cuba, and a ready supply of research material, so should have been able to write about it fairly convincingly. But for several weeks, I sat and wrote nothing. Frustrated by the sudden writers block, I decided to change the setting to Turkey, and immediately my writing mojo returned. What had made the difference? Whereas I’ve never visited Cuba myself, I have traveled in Turkey and know some of the areas pretty well. I couldn’t 'feel' Cuba, and that affected my writing. I have a great fondness, however, for Turkey and its generous culture, and really en-joyed writing about it. 

One of my favourite places in Turkey is St Nicholas Island, which features in Shadows. Not only is it staggeringly beautiful, it has a fascinating history - and its own mystery. Have a look at my blog post and video about the island to find out more.

There are risks, however, in writing about certain locations, including Turkey. This is a country with a complex political role in a pivotal geographic position. The rules and regulations that apply in a country whose neighbours include Syria and Iraq have to be different in some ways to those that apply here in the UK. Some of these are controversial, and writers do have to tread carefully.

So, yes - the setting for a crime fiction novel really does matter. In lots of ways. 

About Jackie McLean:

Jackie lives in Glasgow and has a varied background, including being a govern-ment economist, a political lobbyist, and running a pet shop in Glasgow’s Southside (ask her anything about pets).  She currently works with East Ayrshire Council, where until recently her job involved frequent visits to Kilmarnock Prison.

Toxic is her first crime novel, introducing DI Donna Davenport, and was shortlist-ed in the          Yeovil Literary Prize before publication by ThunderPoint Publishing Ltd.  
The sequel, Shadows, was published in October 2017, and 
Her third book in the DI Davenport series (Run) will be published in October 2019.

Jackie has appeared at crime writing festivals Newcastle Noir, Crime at the Castle and Literally @ Newbattle, and regularly appears at Noir at the Bar events (includ-ing Edinburgh, Newcastle, Dundee and Dunfermline).  She also forms part of the Dangerous Dames and Murder & Mayhem along with a number of other crime writ-ers, and has appeared at events in libraries and bookstores across Scotland as part of these.  She is one of Bloody Scotland’s 2019 Crime in the Spotlight authors.

Until recently, Jackie ran the writing group at Waterstones Braehead, and has also run creative writing sessions with the men in Kilmarnock Prison.  

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