HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I’m in Bethesda Maryland today at Malice Domestic! Whoo hoo! And photos to come.
Where are you? The wonderful David Burnsworth—who I met years ago in one of those serendipitous meetings at some conference and we instantly bonded—has changed his location for his third book.
Moving is a big deal—you get comfortable, then you have to pick up lock stock and book collection, and hope for the best in a new place.
Where was your last move? Where are you now?
David’s Brack Shelton is sticking with the south.
Home is Where You Keep Your Sunscreen
Charleston, South Carolina will always be home to my protagonist, Brack Pelton. My first two books, SOUTHERN HEAT and BURNING HEAT were set there. But with the third installment, BIG CITY HEAT, Brack gives Charleston a break and heads to the Capital of the South—Atlanta!
Realtors will say, “Location, location, location.” I couldn’t agree more. Some (probably even me) have called setting another character of the book. I now consider it more than that. Setting influences everything about the story. Winter in northern Maine or Wyoming could freeze appendages off. Certain parts of New York City or Chicago require bullet proof windows. The solitude of Denali might trigger introspection or loneliness.
I love Charleston because it is like no other place on earth. Antebellum homes on lower King Street, crabbing in the waterways of Johns Island, shopping in the Market, and sipping sweet tea at a beach bar on the Isle of Palms while overlooking the Atlantic Ocean are just a few of my favorite things.
So is exploring the cobble stone streets or driving down Seventeen South toward Beaufort under the cover of live oaks bejeweled with Spanish Moss. The city’s part in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and current events. Mix in the Deep South climate of humidity approaching a hundred percent in the summer and calling Charleston special doesn’t do it justice.
So why did I pick Atlanta for book three? Like Charleston, I also lived in Atlanta at one time in my life. I felt a need to return, to see how the city of my teens had weathered time. And what I found was what started in the late seventies and early eighties as a boom town transformed the city into a cultural powerhouse. Every corner brings something to the table. Music, art, food, progress…Atlanta is absolutely drenched in its own diversity.
For many reasons, including giving me a more worldly outlook, my parents uprooted from what I’ll call rural America to the big city. I have to admit it took me quite a while to adapt. The experience forced me to change and adapt. And it certainly exposed me to a bigger world than I had been used to.
So, Brack had to go, too. This new book was a long time coming for me. I needed to take myself and Brack out of our shared comfort zone. Like for me on my research trip, he finds things are different in the metropolis. While challenging to write, it gave me a new cast of supporting characters to choose from and a different world to play in.
I read some authors because of the consistency of the setting and characters. And I read other authors because they change things up. My series’ home is Charleston.
But I’ll not be afraid of mixing things up from time to time. BIG CITY HEAT is me living this out.
Where are your favorite books set?
HANK: Oh, gosh, that’s too hard. It depends on the story. I guess—they’re set in a place that feels real. How about you? And check in, Reds and readers! Where are you today?
David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. He is the author of both the Brack Pelton and the Blu Carraway Mystery Series. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.
BIG CITY HEAT is his latest southern noir.