Have you visited Sunset yet?

My novels are set in the fictional town of Sunset, Michigan.  For those of you who know Michigan the exact location of the town is just north of Traverse City and south of Petoskey, on the Lake Michigan shore.

During the rewriting of the first novel DARK SUNSET, I had to cut a fair amount of background story out of the book to keep it flowing along.  It was really good stuff and provided some historical perspective and color to the novel.  However, I had to kill these children as they just slowed the story down too much.

While Sunset is definitely a fictional place, it was inspired by a real life town — Charlevoix, Michigan.  As part of my research for the book I spent a week last year in Charlevoix, walking the streets and soaking in the atmosphere.  It was off season so the town was relatively peaceful.

My routine most days was to walk the streets, make some notes, take some pictures and then return to my hotel to work on the outline and characters.    At one point I was going to set the story in Charlevoix but I backed off this idea because it would be too restricting. I decided that a fictional setting would serve the story better so I created Sunset.

The basic geography of Sunset bears some similarities to Charlevoix — a large bay joined to Lake Michigan by a long channel. A draw bridge that cuts off the town when raised. The library, which plays an important role in the action, is the same design and scale.

Visiting Charlevoix also gave me an opportunity to talk to people about their life in the town and some of this also was incorporated into the book.

When I sat down to write the book I could see the streets and feel the action. It made the task much simpler.

But what to do with all of that stuff that I wasn’t able to use?

I decided to leverage some of it into a website that purports to be the website of the town of Sunset. I am designing it to act as a repository for unused story threads and photographs that I took.  It is also a none-to-subtle promotion for the books.

I am about to launch the site, but you can have a special preview at www.sunsetmichigan.com .  I welcome any comments or suggestions as I flesh out the world of Sunset Michigan.

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