The Importance of Locations by Deborah J Ledford

Crescendo F. Cover -w blurb 7 HR-FinalOkay, so keeping with the “Importance of” theme, let’s discuss locations. How important are they to you as a reader? How about as a writer? For me, the main location for my Steven Hawk/Inola Walela has definitely become a main character.

I grew up spending my summers in a small town nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. This is a place that remains close to my heart and senses. There are times when I awake in the middle of the night, replaying events long passed, the scent of “green” still nestled in my brain.

The summertime nights were humid during those cherished weeks every year, but that never bothered me as I chased fireflies, capturing them in the Mason jar my grandmother would provide from her stash under the sink.


The drives with my grandfather are gems I unfortunately only remember snippets of—sitting in the back seat of his huge Buick as he backed up the long drive to the two-lane, twisting highway that would lead us to the gas station/country store where he would buy me a paper sack full of Atomic FireBall jawbreakers. Even decades ago Kudzu vines hugged the trees and power poles, massive hulking monsters, disturbing yet fascinating.


The fog that would rarely completely lift hovered over the expanse and deep in the valleys when we reached a rise high enough to look down at the most enchanting, wondrous Great Smokies I will never release from my memories.


I go back from time to time to the real city of Bryson City, where Inola Walela, Steven Hawk and his family live in my books. My imaginary characters visit locations I still remember; essentially playing out the life I could only dream of. I suppose that’s one of the best parts about being a novelist…the “what if” and “why not” of every story one can create.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel of suspense, CRESCENDO, is book three of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series. Other novels include, STACCATO, and SNARE, Finalist for The Hillerman Sky Award and the NM-AZ Book Awards. Deborah is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and her award-winning short stories appear in numerous print publications as well as literary and mystery anthologies. Part Eastern Band Cherokee, she spent her summers growing up in western North Carolina where her novels are set. Deborah invites you to visit her website.

Photograph Credits: Smoky Mountains Sunrise ©Dave Allen. Kudzu ©Felicity Green.


Filed under books, fiction, writing

16 responses to “The Importance of Locations by Deborah J Ledford

  1. I’m glad you have a place you have a place that brings back fond memories and is beautiful into the bargain.I believe that, as a writer, working with what you know is important. Some places stick to you and you never lose sight of them in your mind’s eye no matter how far you have travelled away from them.

    The only place south in the USA I’ve been to is New Orleans and that was back in the ’70s.

    The north coast of NSW, Australia does it for me. I spend most of my youth not far from Sydney but I believe I did whatever growing up I managed to do on fishing trips along the mighty Clarence River. There I learnt something about good sportsmanship. Any time of year the beaches are inviting. I discovered that I actually enjoyed reading on one such holiday up north. Now my youngest sister lives up there with her husband and children so the area is now special in other ways.

    Often in my writing Sydney is portrayed as that city that can’t help but rot away. Fishing villages on the mighty Clarence, however, tend to be depicted as paradise not quite lost yet and worth the trouble of saving.

  2. Shar Campbell

    * I chased fireflies, capturing them in the Mason jar
    *Kudzu vines hugged the trees and power poles, massive hulking monsters,

    Those are my memories too! I love the way you paint pictures and moods with your words. Location does matter.

  3. I’ve been wanting to visit North Carolina ever since I was first published by Second Wind, a North Carolina-based publisher, but just looking at your photos makes my allergies act up! Still, NC is on my list of places to visit someday.

  4. Pingback: A Great Blog to Check Out | Bertram's Blog

  5. Thinking fondly of our settings panel at Left Coast Crime. Every time I think of your books, I think of that curvy drive in the snow in Crescendo.

    • Hello Terry! Our “Settings” panel was one of my favorite things about Left Coast Crime 2013. Thanks for your comment. I tried very hard to create memorable visuals in my latest book–thrilled that one of them stayed with you.

  6. If I know a book is located in a place I like, I’m more likely to read it. This goes even more for places I have no interest in, however. I’ve probably passed up many good books for that reason. So, I guess a strong location can work both ways. What I don’t like is when an author gives too much information, for example when someone’s driving a car and the author has to tell you every highway and every street name along the way.

    • That’s interesting, Mickey. And I agree–no telling how many books are overlooked due to there being no real interest in the locations. Cara Black’s Aimee Leduc series comes to mind. Yes, Paris is an interesting place, but I normally would go for a book set in the U.S…until I read Cara’s first book. Then I was hooked and I’ve read nearly the entire series.

  7. dellanioakes

    I consider location very important. Sometimes, it’s merely a backdrop to the action, but other times it can enter in like a living being. I don’t do that often, but I have read some wonderful books recently where the setting becomes part of the cast – almost a living, breathing being.

    • Which is what I truly attempt in my entire series, Dellani. The entire trilogy is primarily set in western NC, however book 2, SNARE, also takes place on the Taos Pueblo Indian Reservation in New Mexico–also a fascinating area I loved to write about.

  8. Location can awake the readers’ senses and invoke strong emotional responses. The way you describe your setting surely does. I find I’m drawn to, or not interested in, some books because of where they are set. I love learning about what it is like to be in another area–the joys and challenges.

  9. I completely agree, Christine. I love it when the writer makes the extra effort to truly make the location another character. This adds a layer and therefore a more interesting read.

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