Posted in Blog tour, Guest Post, mystery on March 28, 2014

Please welcome author Christine Finlayson who wrote Tip of a Bone that is being featured today here on StoreyBook Reviews.

Tip of a Bone

The Dark Side of Setting

When we arrived on the Oregon coast for our honeymoon, I had no idea this wild seascape would one day become the setting for my first mystery novel. But you know how that goes . . . a place captures your heart and you can’t forget it.

We spent five magical days in Newport, a small city halfway down the coast. My new husband and I—both water scientists—studied sea creatures at the aquarium, pondered the octopus at the science center, searched for agates on the beach, watched gray whales, visited lighthouses, and compared fish-and-chip joints. It was a blissful, relaxing vacation, with Newport as a scenic backdrop.

So when it came time to choose a setting for Tip of a Bone, my debut mystery, I knew the right spot—and doing book research would be the perfect excuse to travel there.

I took full advantage, visiting Newport 13 times. I sampled microbrews at the Rogue Ales Brewery (a site featured in two book scenes) and watched barking sea lions in Yaquina Bay (another book scene). I photographed the Bayfront, marina, forests, and beaches for setting, and tasted local specialties, including salt-water taffy and fresh-from-the-boat halibut and chips.

But this friendly, touristy vibe offered only one side of Newport’s story. And the more I visited, the deeper I dug under the surface.

One night at 2 a.m., I drove the same river road my main character, Maya Rivers, had. It was a terrifying trip. The road twisted and turned through the darkness, offering hairpin curves and an abrupt drop-off into the brown waters of the Yaquina River. I understood what Maya would have felt that night, driving alone through dense fog with a truck chasing her—and nowhere to escape.

On another dark, rainy night, I headed to the Bayfront, wanting to see it with the crowds gone and shops closed. The place was eerily quiet and isolated—and I knew I’d found the perfect spot for Harley (Maya’s brother) to put himself in danger.

During several visits, I experienced Newport’s violent winter storms, with drenching rain and gale-force winds. Adding this bad weather could only enhance the story – it’d make life harder for Maya, testing her inner strength.

To complete my research, I traveled the Fishermen’s Memorial Walk, a trail that commemorates more than 100 locals who’ve lost their lives at sea. It gave me deep appreciation for those who venture into the ocean so we can enjoy fish and chips.

The more I got to know Newport, the more real it became. The “dark side” added layers of complexity to the “light” surface, and I hope that comes through in Tip of a Bone.

So I’m curious to know: Have you read a story set in one of your favorite spots? Did it capture the full setting?