Behind the Book Scenes: Location, Location, Location
When I started writing The Dark In-Between, I knew a couple of things in terms of the location. I knew that the story took place in a small town. I knew there was water involved and a lighthouse, so perhaps near the ocean. I’ve heard it said to write what you know. And well, I grew up in a big, bustling city, far away from the ocean, back in London, Ontario. In fact, I’d never even seen the ocean.
What did I know of small town living?
But I knew this was where the story took place and that’s how I would have to write it.
As I began revisions, I realized that I was really struggling to immerse my story into the rich location I had envisioned for it. So, I did what all authors inevitably do: I started to research. Now, you can use all sorts of things for inspiration. Other books, movies, the internet… or you can do what I did and totally move across the country to actually live in one of these coastal towns.
Just kidding… sort of.
I actually moved for my job after finishing university, not necessarily to write a book, but it just so happened that I ended up living in the kind of place that reflected where my book was set. In the end, I settled in Halifax, a city in Nova Scotia, Canada. It isn’t so much a coastal town as it is another big, bustling city, but there’s a harbor with an island and a lighthouse, tons of boats, and as much of the Atlantic Ocean as I could ever want to stare at. It also has a great boardwalk which is flooded with tourists in the summer and tons of colorful shops and food stalls.
Halifax wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned for my book, but it sure was close and a lot of those little elements started working their way into my writing. During my first summer there, my sister came to visit me and we toured Peggy’s Cove with its famous, postcard-worthy lighthouse. A lighthouse is central in The Dark In-Between for both the beginning and end of Casey and Liddy’s respective journeys. These views were all the inspiration I needed to continue with revisions.
And one of the best things about living on the East Coast is that there is always a quaint, coastal town just a short drive away. One of my favorite things to do on my days off in the summer was go explore all these little seaside towns with my friends. I drew more setting inspiration from places like Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and Wolfville, Nova Scotia. When I visited Lunenburg, there was a point where I felt as if I was standing in the middle of Casey’s hometown, walking the same steps she would have, driving the same roads… even grabbing ice cream from the same shops. There was plenty of maritime history, art, and culture to learn about; and, in places like these, I was able to experience first hand the people and the idea of small-town life near the ocean.