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James Lilliefors | A Sense of Place in THE PSALMIST

The Psalmist
James Lilliefors



Barnes & Noble

Luke Bowers and Amy Hunter

August 2014
On Sale: July 22, 2014
Featuring: Luke Bowers; Amy Hunter
ISBN: 0062349686
EAN: 9780062349682
Kindle: B00HU5NGDG
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Also by James Lilliefors:
The Tempest, August 2015
The Psalmist, August 2014
Viral, April 2012

Memorable stories are like good vacations. They change the scenery. But they also do something more mysterious they stir our imaginations, reminding us of all that is good and strange and wondrous about our lives.

People say characters make a good story. But it's often setting that makes memorable characters, whether it's Huck and Jim's Mississippi, Atticus and Scout's Maycomb or the Buendia family's magical Macondo (among countless other examples).

This seems particularly true with mysteries and thrillers from the English villages and exotic resorts of Agatha Christie to the L.A. noirs of Raymond Chandler or Michael Connelly to Robert Parker's Boston and Stephen King's Maine.

"You may think the story is about the characters and what happens to them but it's not," novelist Julia Keller wrote in an insightful essay in The Chicago Tribune a few years ago. "The story is about where it occurs." The setting is the story, she argues.

I've always been drawn to a sense of place in novels and felt comfortable allowing the setting to control the vertical and the horizontal, so to speak. The Psalmist begins with the setting of Tidewater County, and from the setting comes the characters and the story. Tidewater is an old-fashioned community on Maryland's Eastern Shore, which caters to tourists yet holds firm to tradition. It's a place you won't find on any map, although it bears some resemblance to the real Eastern Shore an older and slightly romanticized version, probably, drawn in part from childhood memories: a land of oyster-shell roads, cattail swamps, meandering tributaries, working fishing harbors, waterfront crab houses and sweeping views of the Chesapeake. But there's also something unsettling about its empty, silent spaces and old wooden houses.

We all carry places in our imaginations that are touchstones to our childhoods and to more idealized notions of our lives. Where good stories differ from vacations is that they take us to locales we'll never quite find in the real world, even though we may recognize some of the landscape.

The protagonists in THE PSALMIST are Pastor Luke Bowers and homicide investigator Amy Hunter. Both are in the good and evil business, although in very different ways. They join forces after a woman is found murdered in Luke's church. The Tidewater County setting complicates the crime for Hunter because she has to contend not only with a killer but also with the ghosts of tradition that still haunt the county, as well as an entrenched bias against a young female running the investigation. (Tidewater County will also be the setting for the second book in the series, THE TEMPEST, out in February 2015.)

Settings, like characters, can be complicated and are always capable of surprise. As Luke Bowers says at the opening of THE PSALMIST, "They say that nothing happens in Tidewater County during the winter. Sometimes, they're wrong."




1 comment posted.

Re: James Lilliefors | A Sense of Place in THE PSALMIST

I think that the setting is so important to a book!! It
will either make or break it. If the person reading the
book can be transported to the setting of the story, and
they can imagine themselves in the plot, the Author has done
his job. Sometimes the setting isn't pretty, but that's the
readers' preference. In most cases, I prefer to read books
where the setting is in a beautiful place, since I have to
deal with a lot of stress in my personal life, and need
something of that caliber to relax me. Whether or not the
story itself is relaxing or not is another story. That
would depend on my mood at the time. You're very observant
to tend to a detail like that, and I'm looking forward to
reading your book!! Congratulations!!
(Peggy Roberson 11:23am July 23, 2014)

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