The Big Reveal

Welcome to the Big Reveal

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.

Before we start back in, I’ve got two thing to mention. Congratulations to both Kelley Lynn and Lara Schiffbauer on the releases of your novels. Kelley’s is Fraction of Stone and Lara’s is Finder Meara. Make sure you check them out if you haven’t had a chance yet.


Do you prefer writing with real or imaginary settings?
What do you prefer to read?

Eileen Cook, Published Author
I enjoy writing contemporary books that typically have a blend of real and imaginary. I may make up a specific town or school so that I can have the flexibility to do exactly what I want.


Kelley Lynn, Published Author
Oh wow. I like both. Writing imaginary settings gives you COMPLETE freedom. So much fun. You get to make the rules. Writing in a real setting is, to me, more challenging. But the challenge is so cool as well. I think the imaginary comes easier for me. (Maybe I have a slight complex with wanting to control everything…haha)


Chloe Banks, Agented Author
The two proper novels I’ve tried writing both had imaginary settings – one was a fantasy (for children), and one was an imaginary English seaside village. But that was more because I was worried if I chose a real place I’d get the details wrong! My next novel I’m setting in a city I know well so I’m looking forward to that. I’ve read two books set in a little town I know a bit, and I loved reading them – it felt as if I was in on a secret. I don’t read a lot of fantasy but I think Discworld is fabulous, and I want to live in The Shire with the hobbits.


Valerie Cole, Agented Author
I can only wrap my head around real settings—which is why I’m a contemporary writer. However, I’m fascinated with fantasy and sci fi writers. I think it’s amazing how they can world build and create entirely new settings from scratch. I really liked Jodi Meadows’ INCARNATE series, and recently picked up Brodi Ashton’s EVERNEATH and Cynthia Hand’s UNEARTHLY series.


Jay Bendt, Un-agented Author
I always like having a bit of fantasy in any setting I work with, even if it’s already an urban setting. While I love to read straight-out-of-real-life scenarios, the writer in me prefers imaginary settings I can expand upon rather than be constricted by. I truly believe in writing what you know, and I would not be comfortable placing a story in say…Georgia, if I’ve never been there. While research could help with a big part of that, any Georgian would immediately know I’m not from there! So I like imaginary settings, sometimes balanced mixes of both imaginary and real, that allow me to truly stretch the boundaries of what’s possible.


As for a setting I loved, my most recent read was The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa, so I am in love with her work for the Nevernever (Faery land!). She did a great job at creating a whole world with its own rules of nature, its own feeling, its own life. Because of her fantastic job, her stories took on a deeper root in my mind and I was able to imagine the place as real, with stories and activity that went beyond just the characters. That’s always a great thing to stumble upon.


Lara Schiffbauer, Published
Imaginary settings are easier, because I just describe what I see in my head. When I have to write a real place, it helps if I’ve been there. If I haven’t, I spend too much time researching the place, trying to get the description right. I also feel handicapped because I haven’t had the sensory experience of the place. For reading, I enjoy either setting and can’t think of any particular setting that I’ve loved more than others.


Mark Koopmans, Un-agented Author
I love real, and that’s why I love thrillers and detective stories.
A CERTAIN JUSTICE by P.D. James is a must-read. James has such a delicious way of writing!


Do you like writing with real or imaginary settings? What about reading?

7 Responses

  1. I’d go with real–as in contemporary real. Most of my towns are made up thought just because I worry about screwing something up. I’ll generally pick an upper midwest area because that’s what I’m familiar with.

    Since I’m not naturally good with writing description, the world building in fantasy writing would probably be hard for me. But I’ve never tried it, so who knows.

  2. I enjoy reading both – recently read WOOL by Hugh Howey and the world building was excellent! In writing, I tend to go with “real” places in that they’re recognizable – a town, woods, the seaside, etc – but not actual places you’d find on a map.

    Enjoyed this post!

  3. I like reading stuff set in places I’m familiar with (like London or New Orleans). It’s like when you see a movie set in one of those places and get all excited and say, “I know that place! I’ve been there!”

    I set my books in various places, imaginary and/or real, depending on the story.

  4. I tend to write in an imaginary setting. It allows me my space to create without being limited to certain structures. But I read a variety of both.

  5. Great question and answers! Personally, I like to write an imaginary settings and mostly like to read in them to. Sometimes I enjoy a good venture into the real though.

  6. Hey,

    Since I wrote the above, I’m come up with an idea for WIP#2, so I will be writing about real places, but with a heavy splash of imagination 🙂

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