Settings play a huge role in my demon novels. All of the books spend some time in my take on Hell, which is a cross between the fire-and-brimstone Hell described by the terrifying Baptist preachers of my childhood and the equally terrifying large corporations I worked for during my career as a software engineer, but each of them also has a more mundane setting here Aboveworld.
The first book, The Demon Always Wins, is set in northern Florida, near the ocean along the Georgia border. My eldest sister lives there, so I’ve spent several vacations in that area over the years. Much of the book takes place in a free clinic staffed by paid staff and volunteer doctors, similar to one I worked in as the office manager for eighteen months.
The second book, The Demon’s in the Details is set in Sedona, AZ. I’ve never had the joy of living in that beautiful place, but I did spend a wonderful week there in January, 2016, getting the lay of the land and soaking up atmosphere, before setting pen to paper (or fingertips to keys).
From this, you can deduce that I like to actually visit and spend time in the settings where my books are going to take place. I like to know, before I start writing, how the light looks (crystal clear, like Sedona? or a little smudged with humidity, like Florida?), what the place smells like (ocean? rotting vegetation? cooking spices?), the ambient noises.
Recently I’ve been doing research for the setting for The Demon Wore Stilettos. After brainstorming with Eight Lady Jilly and poking around on Google, I came across a place I think will be perfect: Gobekli Tepe, in southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border.
Gobleki Tepe, which means “potbelly hill,” is the site of an archaeological dig of what is believed to be the oldest religious site in the world. Diggers have uncovered a series of layers of carved stone pillars, some ten meters high, set in circles. There are three main circles, which in turn form the points of an equilateral triangle. Based on carbon dating, it was originally built around 9600 B.C., making it six thousand years older than Stonehenge.
Let that sink in for a moment–it is twice as old as Stonehenge. It was built before there was written language, before metallurgy, before the invention of agriculture, before there were cities.
One of the reasons archaeologists have identified Gobekli Tepe as a religious site is that no signs of day to day life, like cooking implements, have been discovered there. The hunter gatherers who built it weren’t there just living their everyday lives. They came there for the specific purpose of building a temple.
The area around Gobleki Tepe is also believed by some Biblical scholars to be the site of the Garden of Eden. Where, as you may know, Lilith first came into existence. (If you’re interested in a free short story about Lilith’s origin, you can get it by signing up for my newsletter, The Gehenna Gazette, over on my website.)
The nearest city is Sanliurfa (aka Urfa).
So how do you immerse yourself in a setting you can’t actually visit?
- Visit Turkish (in this case) restaurants
- Talk to a former work colleague who emigrated from Turkey