A good part of responding to that question is, of course, the idea of "setting"—the physical stage on which a scene of the story takes place: a town or city, a house, a prison, a room, etc. But for me, and, I would guess, for most writers, the concept of setting also includes more than a stage for the action of a single scene. In the broadest sense, it's the world that the novel creates. This "world" not only encompasses the physical (and fragmented) individual settings that form each scene, but also those story elements that span the entire novel—the characters, customs, costumes, and more that appear in many or all of the individual scenes.
In the mystery story, the novel's general setting underlies the criminal act of the plot. It contributes in various ways to the type or types of personalities who populate the story, it defines the type of crime that brings disruption into that world. It usually provides the motive or motives behind that crime, and it even dictates the language and thought patterns that define the story's characters. It is, in short, the fictional alter-world.
And that's the challenge and opportunity for writers: to inform the readers about an environment while entertaining them with the characters and conflicts that are native to that alter-world.
Rex, thank you so much for being my guest today and introducing my readers and me to your exciting thriller series. I've put both Body Slam and Crude Carrier on my Goodreads "Want to Read" list.
Rex Burns, author of numerous books, articles, reviews, and stories, won an Edgar for The Alvarez Journal. Another novel, The Avenging Angel became a Charles Bronson film. His "Constable Leonard Smith" stories appear in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. His novels, including the latest, Body Slam and Crude Carrier, are available in print, audio, and e-format from Mysterious Press/Open Road Media.
You can learn more about Rex and his novels at his website. He can also be found on Facebook and Goodreads.
Rex will be giving away one signed print copy of Crude Carrier to a U.S. or Canada reader who leaves a comment on this post by midnight Mountain Time Friday, January 30th. The winner's name will be posted here on Saturday.