I am asked frequently why I decided to place my story’s setting in the past when most current story’s in the young adult genre are set in the “now”. The answer is quite simply really, I have always had a passion for history and as a bonus; the allure of the past helped conceal the story’s mystery. I wanted my characters and setting to be genuine, reflections of a time long gone and in some cases forgotten by the younger generations. I wanted something more than another appetizer book in first person; I wanted a seven-course dinner. I wanted to create something different, something unprecedented, something that marries supernatural with real history.
In the early stages of creating The Orphan, the Soulcatcher, and the Black Blizzard, my characters went without a concrete setting for nearly three months. When thinking about today, the mythology I was building did not seem appropriate. I did not want my characters using cell phones and iPods, or have the ability to get around easily. Also, other supernatural characters in the young adult genre have been assimilated into today’s society, but I wanted to create a different sense of cultural shock for one of my main characters who has only seen the inside of a supernatural prison cell for nearly two centuries.
I love history. I love researching it, reading about it and watching movies with elements in it. I find the greatest joy in learning something new and passing it along to someone else in order for that thing or moment to live on. It is a romantic notion and like the conversation between Ben Gates and the President in National Treasure 2, people (collectively) do not think that way anymore, but they want to. I not only wanted my characters to find themselves in a unique situation, but I want my readers to find themselves in one as well. To learn not only about something factual, but that stories set in the past are just as easy to devour as any story of today.
Kimberlee’s Depression Era Check List:
Movies: O Brother, Where Art Thou, Journey of Natty Gann, Of Mice and Men, Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken, Seabiscuit, Cradle will Rock, Cinderella Man, The Wizard of Oz (though only a mere part takes place in Kansas)
Books: Irene Hunt’s No Promises in the Wind; Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephant; Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird; John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath; Mildred D. Talyor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Television: HBO’s Carnivale
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