Your book’s setting sets the tone for the whole story. Your setting gives readers an image of the world you have created and allows them to immerse themselves in your story. Your setting adds character and authenticity, giving your book added depth. For my New Adult contemporary romance, setting was key.
My New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, is loosely based on my own college experiences. It’s also my love letter to my favorite city— London. My entire story is defined by the setting— the city gives my heroine, Maggie, opportunities she never would have had and creates adventures beyond anything she ever imagined. Setting my story in London provided an international setting with a host of characters from cosmopolitan backgrounds, creating a mix of interesting conflicts and chances for character growth.
Your book’s setting gives your story boundaries, but it also creates possibilities. London was the perfect international setting to bring a small town girl from South Carolina into a world of wealth, privilege, and cultural exploration. Taking Maggie out of South Carolina radically altered her world, forcing her to step out of her comfort zone and meet a new set of challenges. It also enabled her to meet a British guy that sweeps her off of her feet and a Lebanese boy who shakes up her life.
London is exotic. It’s a bustling city where life plays out on a grand stage. It’s larger than life. In the words of Samuel Johnson, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” That’s why I chose London.
London is glitz and glamour; it’s also history and tradition. It’s walking down the street and hearing six different languages spoken around you. It’s shopping at Harrods, walking in Hyde Park, late night Lebanese food, tours of the Tower of London, and having a pint at the pub. London is an adventure. Setting my book there injected this spirit of adventure into my story.
When choosing your setting, think about the ramifications of your choice. A setting should never be entered into lightly. It should be woven into your story— it should affect your characters’ choices, create conflict or opportunity in your novel, and jump off the pages at your reader. Your setting is key. It speaks to the very nature of your story and defines the spirit of your book.
What does your setting say about your book?
I SEE LONDON
Blurb: It’s Maggie Carpenter’s chance— the opportunity to escape her ordinary life in South Carolina and bounce back from her Harvard rejection. The International School— a university attended by the sons and daughters of diplomats and world leaders… and a few American scholarship students. Set in London, it’s the playground for the international elite, a diverse student body bound together by wealth and privilege. Where college parties are hosted at exclusive nightclubs and beer bongs are replaced by bottles of Cristal.
When Maggie meets Hugh, a twenty something British guy, she finds herself living the life she always wanted. Suddenly she’s riding around the city in a Ferrari, wearing borrowed designer clothes, and going to the hottest clubs. The only problem? The boy she can’t seem to keep her hands— and lips— off of.
Samir Khouri isn’t like anyone Maggie has ever met. He’s Lebanese, ridiculously wealthy, and way out of her league. He’s made it clear; he doesn’t do relationships. He’s the opposite of everything Maggie thought she wanted; and he’s everything she can’t resist. Cracks are breaking through Samir’s player veneer, making Maggie question her judgment— and her heart.
But between her strained relationship with her military father and her hurt over the mother who abandoned her, Maggie’s not ready to trust just anyone. Torn between her dream guy and the boy haunting her dreams, Maggie has to fight for her own happy ending. But in a city like London, you never know where you stand, and everything can change with the blink of an eye.
You can preorder I See London ( Release Date: February 1, 2014) at:
Originally a Florida girl, at seventeen Chanel moved to London to attend an international university. In the four years that followed, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, learned how to dance, travelled through Europe, and made lifelong friendships. Chanel fell in love with London and planned to stay there forever. But fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise, when an American fighter pilot with smooth dance moves, swept her off her feet.
Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure in South Korea. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she is happiest curled up with a book. She has a weakness for handbags, puppy cuddles, and her fighter pilot husband. Chanel writes New Adult contemporary romances and Young Adult thrillers. Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON, will be released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 1, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, later in the year.
You can find Chanel at:
Photos by Chanel Cleeton
3 thoughts on “The Importance of Setting – Guest Post By Chanel Cleeton, Author of I See London”
Thank you for having me!
Chanel, I do so agree. I’m trying to do a better job of remembering setting as I write my newest novel. I’ve learned setting is more than period details, although that, too, is very important. Setting is mood, ambience, ‘tension’ between setting and plot (e.g. – an ugly murder set in a quiet, peaceful country town).
Thanks for a great post. You’ve got me thinking further on this subject.
Thank you! I agree- there are so many elements that contribute to setting. It’s fun to play around with!