This week, I’m happy to introduce Lida Sideris, the author of Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters. My first pins on the other side of the Atlantic! You can see the map here.

lida-sideris1How did the setting of your story impact your writing?

I used several different areas of Southern California that I’d enjoyed visiting to provide as backdrops to the action in my novel. I didn’t always use the names of specific places, but I used the actual general locale. For instance, my heroine visits Fashion Island, a large outdoor, upscale shopping mall in Newport Beach, California. I mention that she’s in Fashion Island and describe it  a little, but when she actually enters a jewelry store to discover her first clue, I create an imaginary store located in the mall. The impact on my writing was positive. Since I’d been to the real place, I could smell, touch, see, and hear the action quite clearly. Mentally I was there, right alongside my heroine. I felt like a tour guide who gets to twist and turn real places, and erase some parts to insert imaginary doors and windows to make the reality more exciting and interesting for the reader.

How or why is the setting important to who your character is?

Setting is used to define my character and exhibit her strengths and weaknesses. For instance, she finds herself in a predicament in a real place, and the reader learns about one of her weaknesses. In another instance, her actions in a setting display her strengths. I was like a location scout, seeking out places to help unfold the story. I had a blast!

Which location did you enjoy writing the most in your story? Why this one?

That’s tough because I wouldn’t have inserted them if I hadn’t enjoyed each one. It’s like being at a dinner party where several different kinds of delectable dishes are served and being asked to pick your favorite. Ideally, I’d like to be able to take a bite out of each one, and that’s what I did with the various locations in Southern California, all of which are upscale, desirable locales.

Which part of France would you like to visit? Why?

Well, I could not go to France and not see Paris because of the history and culture…the museums, Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe, etc. And of course, the shopping and food. But I’d also like to visit the Loire Valley and see authentic chateaux and the historic villages, neither of which exist in California.

If you were to create a “typical French” character, how would you describe him/her?

Mature, well dressed, capable, adventurous, mischievous, and a gourmand. Also, well spoken and thoughtful, but a little challenged when it came to following rules.

What do you think would be the greatest cultural shock for a Frenchman who visited your home town? Or the location of your story?

Many French people visit my hometown (I hear them speaking on the main street). They seem to take all in stride, but I do notice some have trouble in parking structures that require automated validation prior to exit. The French experience difficulty in figuring out where or how much to pay! Of course, some domestics have the same problem.

 

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