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Setting As A Character

When I first began writing, I remember a lesson on how it’s important to have you setting be an integral character within your story. I’ve heard quite a few authors speak of this, but I believe Rachelle Gardner resonated with me the best.

The concept for the Indigo Shadows series developed over quite a while. I knew I wanted to do something to do with psychic phenomena centering around a covert operations team. I also realized the overall feel of the story and series needed to be somewhat dark and gritty. I mean, these psychics were seriously mistreated, held in detention facilities. Now they’re essentially on their own because no one wants to deal with their existence. Yet the bad guys still want to get to them. That isn’t exactly a small town hearts and flowers story.

So the setting became a very important part of the world. Thus the research began. I needed the setting to not only set a somewhat dark tone, but also hinder the characters at times, while also helping them at times. The decision to use Chicago developed from there. Initially I’d considered Detroit, but I really liked the idea of Chicago for geological reasons that’ll unfold later in the series.

Google Earth then became my BFF. Ah the power of modern technology. Isn’t it fabulous? Once I had the bare bones of which neighborhoods I was going to creatively influence (i.e. make my own for the sake of the series), the world began evolving from there. Tunnels mysteriously appeared and became the underground (literally!) headquarters for the heroine’s group, the Indigo Order. The psychic children they help are homeless and cluster together in two packs on the streets in the same neighborhood. The crime filled neighborhood provides ample reasons and opportunities for either helpful or harmful situations to unfold and either support or hinder the stories characters. 

So, the next time you’re working on something, or reading a book, ask yourself how important is the setting? What if you moved the characters into a different location? How would the environment impact the story. IMHO there should be a visible change. Otherwise the world isn’t interacting with the characters and it’ll be evident within the story.

The most important thing is to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to creatively modify a potential setting. It’s your world! Do what’s necessary, but be consistent. Once it’s done and published, you can’t undo.

How important do you find setting in the books you read?

A Shadow's Embrace

by Cara Carnes


On the run from evil, her only hope is the Shadows.

Devyn James escaped hell once. A rare technopath, she eventually broke out of the genetics testing facility with the help of the Shadow Elites—General Conver’s super soldiers, who rebelled and now fought to protect psychically enhanced humans.

For the past few months Devyn, or Indy as she’s known on the street, has covertly passed intel to the SEO. Even though the street doesn’t trust the Shadows, she does. They rescued her once and she knows they’re the only ones who will be able to save her from Conver and figure out what she uncovered.

 Dagan is determined to save the female being chased by Conver and his squadron. He soon discovers her identity and vows he’ll do anything to keep her protected—even if it’s from herself.

Together they discover everything is possible when you trust A Shadow’s Embrace.

Dagan smirked as he took a couple of steps back and reached for a plastic bag. He handed it to her. “Convenience food of the gods. Eat. Rest. Then we’ll talk.”

She peeked into the bag. Sour cream potato chips. Diet Coke. Packaged tuna sandwich. Fried cherry pie.

Her gaze narrowed. “Exactly how did you know what I like?”

“I have my ways.”

Tossing the bag on the bed behind her, she shoved him back. Or tried to. He chuckled.

“You read my mind while I was passed out?” That was…that was…Arg. She couldn’t even think about how screwed up that was.

“Like I said, you and I need to work on your perceptions of me.”

“Oh, gee, why would I think you’re a disreputable pain in the ass who’s one step above one of Conver’s minions? Could it be because you manipulated my mind? No? Well, maybe it has to do with the fact you dragged me out into the middle of nowhere, away from my team, and then read my mind to find out I prefer cherry pies over apple.”

He grabbed her wrist before the slap she attempted made contact. “Diaz suggested it, seemed to think it’d put me on your good side.”

Oh. Well.

“As for the other stuff, you know why I took control of you earlier today. Were we to switch places, you would’ve done the same thing."

He returned to the hovering position inches away. His other hand grasped the back of her neck and dragged her forward until their lips almost met. “Ease off the pissed just a little, babe, because I’m hanging on by a thread. I’m having a real hard time remembering you aren’t mine to protect. The more you argue, the hotter I get to prove exactly why I have the right to handle you.”


Born in small-town Texas, Cara Carnes was a princess, a pirate, fashion model, actress, rock star and Jon Bon Jovi’s wife all before the age of 13.

In reality, her fascination for enthralling worlds took seed somewhere amidst a somewhat dull day job and a wonderful life filled with family and friends. When she’s not cemented to her chair, Cara loves travelling, photography and reading.

More information about Cara can be found at





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