Wednesday, March 16, 2011

HOLIDAYS AS SETTINGS

Current Project: A ST. PATRICK'S DAY TALE
Status: Booksigning on March 17!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


As you are reading this, I'm probably double-checking to be sure all is ready for a booksigning tonight to celebrate the release of A ST. PATRICK'S DAY TALE, written by Christine Young, C.L. Kraemer and me.


Our setting: a pub that is bringing a St. Patrick's Day celebration to Salem, Oregon.


Let me describe that setting using all the senses:

The sights: the wearing of the green.

The scents: corned beef and cabbage.

The sounds: a band following our booksigning.

The taste: green beer.

The feel: hopefully not hung over the following morning!


Using holidays as settings is nothing new for writers. Valentine's Day is perhaps the most stereotyped holiday for romance writers, as is Halloween for horror or paranormal genres. Christmas is also a much-used setting for writers and, of course, this year I am one of the authors using St. Patrick's Day as a setting.


In researching settings for this tale, I found some interesting trivia. Though the first St. Patrick's Day parade in the United States was in 1762; Ireland's celebration of St. Patrick was a religious observance until the mid 1990s, when festivities were organized as a draw for tourists.


The U.S. also seems to have originated the tradition of green beer, and a number of cities dye rivers or fountains green as part of their festivities. On the West Coast, San Francisco has had a St. Patrick's Day parade since 1852, and Seattle was recognized by CNN in 2009 as one of the "five places to get your green on" in America.


Whatever the reason to recognize St. Patrick's Day, it provided a rich setting for the three parts in our ST. PATRICK'S DAY TALE. The first part visits Ireland in the early 1800s, when feuds were common between Protestants and Catholics, and one of the major conflicts keeping two young lovers apart. The second part of this tale drops us into a war between good and pagan fae people, who were a large part of the folk lore of Ireland. A time machine links all three parts of the story together, spinning from historic Ireland to the Irish living in more modern days.


Holidays as settings also comes into play in the series I'm writing. It's a saga of a large family, so in addition to explosions and weddings and bringing villains to justice, how holidays are celebrated gives me many opportunities for conflict and character growth.


Obviously, I've discovered using holidays as settings is one more tool for writers. I know many of you have also used holidays in your stories.


But rather than share what holidays you've already written about, is there a holiday you haven't yet included in a story, but are really itching to try? Or, to open up even more possibilities, have you made up a holiday to include in a story?


P.S. If you want a listening or viewing treat, Google "Irish Tenors" or "Irish Dance" and take your pick of YouTube videos to enjoy. I have become a fan of Irish music!

6 comments:

Paty Jager said...

I have used Christmas as the ending in several books. Haven't used Valentine's day. I have mentioned Thanksgiving, and I've used the Fourth of July.

I don't start a book and intentionally think I'm going to put in a holiday, well except the one that was written for a Christmas anthology then I realized it was too big for an anthology.

Interesting post, have fun tonight. Wish I could make it, but it isn't happening. The dh is already grumbling I'll be gone on Sunday.

Laurie Ryan said...

I am toying with a Christmas story that I'd like to try. I know that's probably the most popular holiday. I love it myself and I generally pick up at least one holiday story or anthology each season.

Congratulations on the release of your book!

Sarah Raplee said...

I'd like to include a little-used holiday as part of the setting in a romance. Arbor Day, St. Joseph's Day (Czech), World Religion Day, Juneteenth, or a holiday I've never heard of that is celebrated ethnically or regionally somewhere in the US. As a reader, I love to pick up new information while reading for enjoyment.

May the Luck-O'-the-Irish be with you tonight at your signing!

Genene Valleau said...

Paty, I'll miss seeing you at the booksigning tonight! But understand that your dh might want some of your time. :)

You've written about a lot of holidays. That's cool!

In some ways, I think it's easier to include a holiday in a story if you don't intentionally think about and let it grow naturally from the characters and their celebration of a particular holiday.

On the other hand, it's also fun to pick a holiday and brainstorm what kind of characters would celebrate that holiday and how and what kind of surprises it would bring!

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Laurie! Thanks for stopping by and thank you for the congrats. :)

I used Christmas in my second book though, like Paty, it wasn't a major consideration at first. However, the holiday grew in importance to the characters as the book unfolded. And the editor who bought the book described it as a "feel good Christmas story," even though the book deals with some traumatic issues.

Hope you write your Christmas story. I think your love of the holiday will make it shine!

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Sarah! Thank you for your good wishes on the booksigning!

I'm intrigued with writing a book that includes a lesser known holiday too. And since I wrote this blog, I'm really thinking about making up a holiday to include in a story.

I did a blog post a while back about unusual holidays and found an Internet site that listed a holiday for every day of the year. It was fun!