After several false starts on THE VESPERTINE, I finally decided to set it in Baltimore, Maryland, in the late 19th century. It may seem like an odd combination, but several factors made it an easy decision.
Baltimore! Charm City, the City that Reads! The simplest explanation is, I love this city! I've visited many times, and fallen in love with its unique character. But more important than good feelings were two factors.
First, I like to write about specific places. I find American history and geography fascinating. And I think the best way to make history and geography interesting to other people is to have fun exploring them. Whether the story is set in Louisiana, like SHADOWED SUMMER was, or Maryland, like THE VESPERTINE is, I hope that readers will go there with me.
Secondly, Baltimore wasn't as segregated during this time period as New York, and many other major American cities. It's always been a working-class kind of town, with a vibrant middle class populated by all races and genders. And it's a port town, so there are always people coming and going from every end of the world.
I wanted to write a historical novel that featured characters of color, in a city of color— a place where young women of the time were reasonably considering college and careers, as well as marriages as options. Baltimore was the perfect place to accomplish that.
So why 1889? For a long time, the book was actually set in 1881. As I refined the story, and found out what was important for the characters, and what they needed, the date narrowed. I wanted the Pratt Library to be open; I wanted the B&O Railroad to be under construction. I wanted to be able to use the Old Drury Theatre.
But primarily, I wanted to write a gothic novel. And while I probably could lock a crazy girl in an attic in a book set in 2010 it's just not the same. Likewise, having the right history for that moment really helped as well.
At that time, the United States was completely fascinated by spiritualism and mediums, extrasensory perception and the supernatural. Since I planned to imbue two people with extraordinary elemental powers, I wanted to do it in a time when those powers, or at least, Amelia's, could be celebrated openly.
Sometimes, explaining how a book came to be seems like watching the sausage getting made. But I hope in this case that it makes THE VESPERTINE a little bit more interesting. Everything in the book is there for a reason, and my many thanks to Novel Thoughts for giving me a chance to share the recipe!
Make sure you check out the rest of the tour post across the blogosphere! Up next is The Story Siren! Here is a list of the blogs and dates for the rest of the tour:
1st- Mundie Moms
4th- Novel Thoughts
7th & 8th- The Story Siren
14th- Page Turners
17th- Reading Teen
20th & 21st- Book Nerds
23rd- Mundie Moms
26th- Novel Novice
29th- Late Bloomers
31st- LIVE author chat on Mundie Moms
About the author:
Saundra Mitchell is a longtime screenwriter and author. Random House's Delacorte Press published her debut novel, Shadowed Summer, on February 10th, 2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's will publish her next novel, The Vespertine, with its companion novel, The Springsweet following in Spring 2012.