Today the Birdies are pleased to welcome Amber Lin to the blog. Amber’s got a hot release, but I’ll let her tell you about it! Take it away, Amber!
Sometimes setting is more than just that place where things happen. When it takes on a life of its own, we say it’s “setting as character”. For me I never want the setting to overpower the story; it’s definitely a side character, but one that enriches the overall story.
My contemporary erotic romance Giving It Up is set in Chicago. There are some geographic accuracies in the book, locations, etc. However, when I talk about setting, that’s not really what I mean. This isn’t a travel guide.
These places are painted from my imagination and my job is to bring you there. In fact, I’ve said that I write urban fantasy, except the rules of the world are similar to ours. It’s dark, it’s gritty.
So what sort of things does a setting as character have?
1. Personality, including flaws
When Giving It Up opens, we are in a grungy night club. Packed bodies, thumping music, sticky floors. Later we see Allie living in a crappy apartment where the metal stairs smell like cat piss and the paint is peeling. All of these affect the story just as much as any side character.
2. Reactive AND Proactive
To truly have setting as character, I think the environment needs to impact the story, not just be impacted by the other characters. After all, people are temperamental—so is nature. This can manifest in small ways; for instance, the physical boundaries or characteristics can influence the main character’s behavior… which leads me to the last point
3. A character arc (or growth)
In fact, I’m not entirely sure character as setting requires this. Would you say that every side character needs a character arc? Hmm. In Giving It Up, I would say it has one though. I could fill out a story structure map for my setting and oh, the black moment… well, it’s explosive
Okay, enough writing about writing. How about an example? Here’s an excerpt from Giving It Up:
I followed his truck in my car to a motel about ten minutes away. When I pulled in, he waved me to a parking spot next to his truck and went into the office.
The place wasn’t fancy, but the manicured shrubbery and freshly painted building proclaimed this was an entirely different kind of establishment than the dump by the club. No renting rooms by the hour here.
The sign out front advertised $119.99 a night. A typical price for Chicago, but I sweated the cost. The extravagance of my six-dollar drink from earlier paled in comparison.
What if it was too much money? I might not be worth it.
I kept watch on the frosted office door like he might disappear. Eight minutes later, he came out. My stomach clenched. He flashed a key and nodded toward the back before getting into his truck. I followed him in my car and pulled up beside him again.
It was dark back here. Deserted. The only light came from flickering, yellow lamps dimmed by tiny hordes of bugs. Scattered buildings slumbered around us like a nest of dragons, their snore the low drone from the appliances. It wasn’t exactly safe. Technically that was what I wanted, but the allure of danger only worked up to a point.
What do you think? What are the setting’s physical characteristics shown? What about its personality?
Giving It Up
He tempts her, but kindness and a few mindblowing orgasms aren’t enough to put her back together again. Allie has no hope for a real relationship. Two years ago her best friend betrayed her in the worst possible way – she’d be stupid to trust a man again. Besides, she has her daughter to think of, the only good thing to have come from that dark night.
But when her rapist returns, threatening her sanity and custody of her daughter, Allie turns to Colin. Under his protection and patient touch, Allie begins to heal and learns to hope. Colin’s no saint, though, and his criminal past draws danger of its own. Allie must fight to protect her child and the man she loves, hoping her newfound power will be enough to save them all.
Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: dubious consent.
“A ballsy departure from romantic conventions. At once gritty and tender, stark and hopeful.”
—Cara McKenna, author of Willing Victim
“Giving It Up is an erotic, compelling story that takes us to the shadowy, lonely places but doesn’t leave us there. Amber Lin shows us that romance isn’t just for the rich and shiny. Love can find its way even into the dark corners of the most damaged hearts.”
—Tiffany Reisz, author of The Siren
“… this is a book you MUST read if you like gritty, edgier romance that makes you think as well as turns you on.”
—Cari Quinn, USA Today Bestselling Author of No Dress Required
“Every page is chock full of sexy, angsty must-read-moreness.”
—Karla Doyle, author of Game Plan
“Giving It Up is a gritty, real romance that deals in an honest way with what happens to sexuality in the aftermath of rape…. Read it. You won’t be sorry.”
—Ruthie Knox, author of About Last Night
“As a former rape victim I often seek out romance stories about characters dealing with the aftermath, and authors don’t always get the emotion right, at least for me. Ms. Lin got it so “right” that I was bawling by the second page.“
—Annabel Joseph, author of Comfort Object
Book website (and trailer): http://givingitupbook.com/
Author website: http://authoramberlin.com/
Buy it now: http://www.loose-id.com/Giving-It-Up.aspx