What Makes a Good Setting for a Story?

by Kat Martin
published in Writing

The end of May, the tenth book in my AGAINST series, AGAINST THE WILD, is being released.  This is the first of three books about the rugged Brodie brothers of Alaska.

Being plot-oriented, I usually work through the story from start to finish, then figure out where the best place is going to be for that story to take place. Sometimes, as happened with AGAINST THE WILD, the setting was an essential part of the story before it was even conceived.

Finding a Setting on Accident

There is no place on earth like Alaska.  Dylan Brodie, the hero,  is the new owner of an old fishing lodge in remote Eagle Bay, Alaska, a place heAgainsttheWild140x232 intends to rebuild as a home for himself and his eight-year old daughter.

Dylan has hired sexy, redheaded interior designer, Lane Bishop, to help him with the extensive remodel.  All is going smoothly till the crew working on the lodge begins to believe the old place is haunted.  Unfortunately for Dylan, so does Lane.

But is the haunting real?  Or is it something even more sinister?

It all began with a month-long trip my husband and I recently took to Alaska.  It was the second such trip, both of which involved traveling cross-country, staying in a tiny pickup camper.

Every day, every night spent out in the open, filled my  head with story ideas.  By the time we got back, I had the rough outlines for the Brodie brothers, Dylan, Nick, and Rafe, rugged outdoor hunks, and the women who tame them.

Follow Inspiration with Research

Even though I knew the area and since I live in Montana was familiar with much of the wildlife, the trip filled my senses with sounds, smells, and idea for some of the interesting people who appear in the books.

To help orient myself to different locales, I use Google Maps extensively.  They have street maps, street cameras, satellite views, and still photos, all of which help you see exactly what an area looks like.  Pretty amazing stuff.

Going there, of course, is the best way to chose a setting.  And for myself, there are places I couldn’t write about without seeing.  Alaska is one of them.

We took the ferry up the Inside Passage on part of our trip and stopped in the little town of Wrangell, which was the inspiration for the fictional town of Waterton in AGAINST THE WILD.  Eagle Bay, where Dylan’s lodge sits, is a “fifteen minute plane right south.”

I do my best to pick a place that fits my characters and is a place I can relate to.  I try to choose fun, interesting spots so the readers will have fun with the story.

Hope you enjoy my Alaska hottie, Dylan Brodie, along with Lane Bishop in AGAINST THE WILD, and watch for Nick in AGAINT THE SKY, and Rafe, in AGAINST THE TIDE.

Till then, very best wishes and happy reading!


katB&W2013 (no boats in background)For New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin, a career in real estate led her down the road to romance. Through real estate, Kat found her own perfect match–her husband, Western author Larry Jay Martin.  A short time after the two became acquainted, Larry asked her to read an unpublished manuscript of an historical western he’d written. Kat fell in love with both the book and the author!

Kat moved on to become the bestselling author of over fifty historical and contemporary romance novels. To date, 15 million copies of her books are in print, and she’s been published around the globe, including Germany, Norway, Sweden, China, Korea, Bulgaria, Russia, England, Estonia, Lithuania, South Africa, Italy, Poland, Thailand, Portugal, Turkey, The Slovak Republic, Spain, Argentina, Estonia, Czech Republic and Greece. When she’s not writing, Kat also enjoys skiing and traveling, particularly to Europe. Currently, she’s busy writing her next book.

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