On Setting and The Order of the Key


When plotting out a book idea, setting becomes an essential tool. There are a couple of things you need to consider when you’re deciding where to set a novel. For one, you need a general space and time. For my novel, The Order of the Key, it’s present day New York. But just like a movie has various sets and location shoots that need to be considered in advance, setting goes much deeper than a time and general locale.

When I decided on a setting, I chose utility.

About 90% of The Order of the Key takes place at the Franklin Estate and its surrounding land somewhere near Buffalo, NY. The house, surrounded by acres of forest, is bound by wards so nothing can get in–or out. If that sounds claustrophobic, it’s supposed to. Jacklyn refers to the Estate and its surrounding forest as “Capture disguised as freedom.”

When Jacklyn and her siblings arrive there, they are in awe of the size and the beauty of the decor in a house that can board their entire family and then some. But, then, they believe they’re coming for temporary training. They don’t realize they’re moving there.

The Estate isn’t supposed to be a possession of The Order, but a possession that the extremely rich Franklins have allowed The Order to utilize. Therefore, it needed to fit Lavinia Franklin’s personality, and also be large enough to house the entire Order.

Jacklyn and Lavinia are mirror images of each other. Jacklyn has read one too many comic books and she is very much about the image of a hero–how she should behave based on what she knows. Lavinia doesn’t see herself as the villain, but she does see herself as power-driven. She understands that she’s the Amanda Woodward (for those younger readers, Melrose Place’s no-nonsense, antagonistic business woman who always gets what she wants) of the Estate and yes, that reference is a little out of date, but Lavinia is not a teenager. Lavinia maintains the Estate according to an image of Old World riches, because it helps perpetuate that image of her being a hard-working, elegant woman, able to make the tough choices. But what she really is, and her setting also dictates this, is that of a modern day robber baron.

The Estate needed to be opulent, it needed to be large, and the space around that was necessary mostly because it would ease the claustrophobic vibe of them being cooped up in a house and watched all the time. It was necessary that the feeling exist, especially in certain scenes, but an entire book like that would be tough to live with, so I granted them the surrounding outdoor area for more open space.

However, I am happy that future books get the gang out of the house a lot more. Not gonna tell you how though. Not yet, anyway.

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