Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Importance of Setting in "The Tustin Chronicles: A Detective Santy Mystery"

The best English teacher I ever had used to tell us that what we learned in class is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding literature.  He'd remind us, "This book was not written in a vacuum: what was going on in the time the novel or poem was written?  What about the setting in which the action takes place?  Why did the author chose that locale to tell his story?  How about the author's life?  Did that affect the way he wrote the novel?  Most of the time I felt that I could never do enough to please him; he was always challenging us to do more and that's why his students either loved him or hated him.

His name was Alan Gauley and he taught at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California.  He also inspired T. Jefferson Parker, a classmate of ours in high school, who wrote books about Orange County, such as Laguna Heat or Little Saigon.  I wanted to write a book about my hometown of Tustin that takes place between 1970's to the 1990's.  Mine was a town where the Catholic Church used to hold Mass in a Sunquist packing house, with birds flying among the rafters, before the parish finally got enough money to build a "real church".  It was also a place of hippies and headshops and a nearby restaurant at South Coast Plaza that looked like the waiting room of the 20th Century Limited, complete with a steam train and an announcer intermittently proclaiming "All Aboard!"

My husband and I wrote this murder mystery about our home town.  We'd like to think that Tustin is one of the main characters in our story, The Tustin Chronicles: A Detective Santy Mystery. We live in a city where everyone across the United States, especially in the winter time, dreams of moving to; it's a place where the sun is always shining.  Our town has undergone tremendous growth in the last few decades as orange groves are plowed under to make way for housing tracks and mini-markets. We'd like to think that the theme of the book, a daughter's attempt to find the truth behind her father's murder, could only have taken place here in all the local places with all the interesting real life people that we feel are integral to telling this story.  Hopefully, while reading it, you can almost close your eyes and see it.

 Product Details
eBook available for $2.99 at all your favorite online bookstores
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