Since we talk a lot on this blog about how writers can learn to craft better stories, I was thrilled when Staci Troilo agreed to talk about how she creates her very descriptive settings in her novels.
Staci is an award winning author of fiction that has all the intrigue of contemporary suspense combined with the captivating charm of romance.
Today she is talking about what inspired the setting of her newest release, Out and About (The Cathedral Lake Series Book 2). I loved her first book in the series, Type and Cross (The Cathedral Lake Series Book 1), it was a real page turner that I read in one sitting. So I’m looking forward to reading the sequel. You can find other books by Staci at her blog www.stacitroilo.com.
Hi, Lorna. Thanks for inviting me here today. And to all your readers, hello! Thanks for sparing a few moments for me.
I have a vivid imagination. Always have. Hopefully always will. Sure, it makes for some nail-biting nights when the dog chewing a squeaky toy turns into masked home invaders creeping toward my bedroom. But it’s an essential tool when you write fiction. I wouldn’t trade those sleepless nights for anything.
The other thing I have—that my kids just can’t understand—is an addiction to history and science programs. You can learn so much about so many things in a short hour. What’s not to love?
It was the collision of these two aspects of my personality that inspired the setting of my mainstream fiction series, the Cathedral Lake series.
I’m fascinated by shows about architectural ruins in Europe. I have paintings of ancient structures throughout my home. I’m particularly interested in any folklore that goes with these stories. A little tidbit from this show, an image from that show, and a lot of mental acrobatics, and I have a character or a concept or a plot for a novel. In this particular case, a program about ancient churches, a story about heretics, and my thoughts spinning out of control resulted in the birth of the town of Cathedral Lake.
Cathedral Lake is a fictional town in Western Pennsylvania. I’ve never specified it’s located in my home state. (At least, I don’t think I have.) Unless one of my stories is set in an actual city, I like for people to kind of place themselves where they’re comfortable. But it do like to bring my settings into my novels as more than a backdrop.
Type and Cross, the first book of the series, showed the importance of the lake to the characters. But the novel’s plot was so long and intricate, I couldn’t do the history of the town and the cathedral justice.
But when I wrote book two, Out and About, I was excited to reveal some of the town’s past. Particularly how it got its name.
There are two different sides to the lake—a smooth beach area where people gather for water sports and lounging in the sun, and a craggy slope with a lot of brush growth and a lush tree line. What separates the two sides of the lake is a tall hill, at the top of which are the burned ruins of what was once a cathedral.
In my mind, Cathedral Lake started as a small settlement a long time ago. The first settlers built a large church at the top of a hill overlooking a lake. People couldn’t travel miles and miles to practice their faith, so instead they flocked to the surrounding area and the town of Cathedral Lake was formed.
Nothing’s ever that simple, though. I told you the cathedral is now a burned shell of its former glory. What happened to it?
Well, I can’t give away all my secrets. You’ll have to read the novel to learn more.
Here’s the novel’s description:
Freedom from jail. Freedom from family.
Jensen Keller covets freedom. Probably because he doesn’t have any. He’s abided by his father’s every whim for years. Until the one time he rebelled. And nearly lost his family. Now he’s been summoned back to Cathedral Lake only to discover freedom has been granted to the one person who should be eternally denied it—Wade Unger, the man responsible for his sister’s death.
Bella Perish wants nothing more than to be free from her domineering father. In an unexpected turn of events, she’s not only granted freedom from him—autonomy is forced on her. And her budding relationship with Jensen looks like collateral damage. As she works to repair the relationships that matter most to her, her new found independence is compromised. Worse, her very life is threatened.
An account of repression, revelation, bravery, and contrition, Out and About chronicles the merits and miseries of freedoms denied and gained.
If that interests you, perhaps you’ll enjoy this brief excerpt:
The wind picked up, rustling the leaves in the trees and whipping up the hillside. She heard a howl, or a moan, or something… inhuman.
Standing alone in the darkness at the foot of the hill holding haunted ruins, she grappled with the stupidity of her decision. No real choice left to her, she reached into her pocket for her phone.
The wind whipped around her, carrying with it a blood-curdling wail.
Bella stifled a scream.
So that’s a glimpse into the setting of Out and About, available December 11 on Amazon and coming soon to Barnes and Noble and iBooks. If you like drama, mystery, and of course some spooky architectural ruins, I hope you’ll check it out.
Staci Troilo has always loved fiction, ever since her parents read her fairy tales when she was little. Today, her interest are much more eclectic. She loves getting lost in sci-fi battles, fantasy realms, horror worlds, suspenseful intrigues, and romantic entanglements.
As goes her reading, so goes her writing. She can’t pick a single genre to focus on, so she doesn’t even try. She’s proud to say she’s a multi-genre author.
When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with family and friends, possibly cooking for them, or maybe enjoying an afternoon in the pool. To learn more about her, visit http://stacitroilo.com, sign up for her newsletter, or connect with her on social media.