As a native New Jerseyan – more importantly, a native Trentonian – my first mystery series (oh, did I mention it’s a series?) is set in the Trenton area. This comes as a surprise to some people, who (naturally, I suppose) assumed I would set my novel in my adopted state of Maine. After all, everyone knows Maine has pea soup fog, ancient cemeteries, and tons of old falling-down-sideways houses and barns along less-traveled roads (many of them unlit and unpaved). Throw in a landscape that includes a mix of dark, foreboding evergreens and craggy, bare-branched trees with twisted arms just waiting to swoop down and grab you as you traverse said less-traveled roads – well, it’s a setting just custom-made for creepers and murderers and horrors enough to ruin your sleep patterns for years to come. I think a guy named King has pretty well established this fact.
But when choosing a setting for a novel, why go for merely spooky when you can opt for truly bizarre? Maine, I’ll see your fog-shrouded coast and raise you the New Jersey Pinelands. You got Dark Shadows? New Jersey has The Sopranos. And I’ll concede Maine has the creepy bona fides of all those family burial plots haunting the dooryards of old homesteads, but in New Jersey, we’ve been known to plant the suddenly dead in building and bridge footings. Even my fellow Maine writers would have to agree New Jersey’s got a lot to offer in the settings department. And characters? Don’t get me started.
Some of the Trenton area questions I will definitively answer in my books include these. Or not.
On the other hand, I will admit to a storyline that’s been ping-ponging around inside my head, one that has my protagonist heading to Maine to find the missing puzzle piece of her past that will change absolutely everything for her. You’ll have to wait a few books into the series for that one, though.
Should be a fun ride. Maybe the roads will even be paved.