Today I welcome Gerard Bianco back to the blog to talk about the inspirations for the settings for his short stories in his new collection, A Sharp Bend in the Road. Over to you, Gerard.
Hi Jane. Every literary work grows from character. But characters have to be somewhere. They have to travel from someplace and go somewhere else. The setting of a story seats the characters, and allows them room to move around. Setting also adds the desired atmosphere for each scene. The details of an author’s setting are what places the reader into the story alongside the characters. Without paying attention to setting, an author’s characters could be sitting in a box for all the reader knows.
As you can see, it’s terribly important that an author chooses the right setting for his characters. There are seventeen stories in my new book, A Sharp Bend in the Road. Therefore, I needed to come up with seventeen different locations where the action takes place. I varied the stories by mixing locations and the amount of movement the characters were allowed. Some stories take place in a single setting—a room, for example. Or a few rooms in a house. In other stories, characters move from one location to another. In every story, whether the characters were in one room or a dozen, I added enough details to the setting so that the reader would get a good sense of where he was, and feel as if he were sitting, or standing next to the characters.
I’m originally from Brooklyn, New York. I’ve lived in Manhattan, as well. So, two of my stories take place there – one in the diamond district of New York City – the other in Brooklyn, overlooking the Verrazano Bridge.
I now spend most of my time in Maine. Three of my stories take place in cities in Maine. The last story in the book is a novella. Characters travel north on Route 95 from the south of Maine, stopping in different locations on the way.
One of the settings in Maine that play a key role in the book is Baxter State Park. Tourists from all over the world visit Baxter State Park. It’s filled with campsites, bubbling brooks, waterfalls, dense forests, and spectacular scenic views. One of the highlights of the park is the fantastic view of Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine at 5,270 feet. The Penobscot Indians named Katahdin, which means, “The Great Mountain.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia.org)
Houlton, Maine, in Aroostook County, and the areas just south of it are settings for one of the stories titled, “A Town Like I Ain’t Never Seen.” Houlton, which is north of Nova Scotia, is best know today as being the terminus of Interstate 95. But back during the turn of the twentieth century, which is when the story takes place, Houlton was one of the leading towns in Maine with big businesses, fine hotels, excellent restaurants, and an opera house. My protagonist, a nature lover, leaves the comforts of the big city to live and work in the wilderness. Like most of the stories in this collection, be prepared for a surprise ending.
Another story from the collection takes place in Maine, during the summer. It’s sweltering hot and the protagonist’s wife and children take off for her sister’s air conditioned house in Connecticut for a few days, leaving my protagonist and his dog behind. “We don’t have air conditioning,” my protagonist says. “We live in Maine, so who needs it. Right?”
Maine does get hot in the summer, but usually cools off during the evening – especially on the coast. You wouldn’t know it now, however. We’re in the middle of a series of snowstorms that have left us winter-white wherever you look. Here’s a photo of my front yard. It’s hard to tell, but that’s three feet of snow on the ground. Can you see the forty-foot path from the steps to the street? No? That’s because it’s been covered over three times in the past week, and guess who has to re-shovel each time it gets covered over?
Well, I guess it’s time for me to get back outside and take care of that path. Many thanks for reading!
About the Author
Gerard Bianco holds an MFA in Writing from Albertus Magnus College. He’s an author, an artist/illustrator, a jewelry designer, and a teacher of creative writing. His works include:
The Deal Master (2006) A mystery/thriller novel. Won the Editor’s Choice Award and the Publisher’s Choice Award.
Discipline: A Play (2012) A love story and a laugh-out-loud comedy that uses wit to depict human frailty. It won the Editor’s Choice Award, 2012 and was a Finalist in the 2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards.
His short stories have appeared in various literary journals. His lessons, exercises and advice on the art and craft of creative fiction have appeared on the web and in the new book, Now Write! Mysteries: Mystery Fiction Exercises From Today’s Best Writers and Teachers. (Tarcher, 2011; Edited by Sherry Ellis and Laurie Lamson.)
His latest book, “A SHARP BEND IN THE ROAD: 17 INTRIGUING STORIES,” published January, 2015.
Gerard divides his time between Portland, Maine and Boston.