By A. Gavazzoni – author of Behind The Door and Lara’s Journal
I don’t like to talk about places I’ve never been to; it’s complicated to convey how a place looks if you’ve never been there. So the majority of the settings in Behind The Door are real or based on real places with different names and addresses.
To better describe a place, an author should familiarize herself with the location. Either go there and visit, if possible, or do research—read books or search the Internet for descriptive websites or images. I try to go to the places I describe, and sometimes I take notes, and if possible, I take pictures to remind me about the details.
I would much rather visit the settings in my books, because it’s much easier to describe them than it is to imagine what they look like! Also, there are details I won’t get from images on the Internet or from a description in a book, such as how a place smells or the feeling I get when I walk enter a certain place. Some places have a “friendly” atmosphere, while others are more foreboding for some reason (due to poor lighting, for example).
Here are some examples of the locations I wrote about in Behind The Door:
The first restaurant Lara and Mark go to, the Thai one, is based on a wonderful Thai restaurant in Brazil called Lagundri.
Amma’s, the Indian restaurant, exists and has the same name and the same address mentioned in my novel. If you were to visit there, you would see I’ve described it exactly as it looks, and the food there is really amazing. Whenever I visit New York, I always go there.
The La Boqueria on Spring Street is also a real place, and I kept its name.
The apartment Lara has in Paris is the apartment I rented while studying international contracts there. I loved that street—La Rue de Saint Dominique.
The restaurant Lara and Mark visit in Paris, La Fontaine de Mars, is on the same street as the apartment, and it’s a very traditional French restaurant. President Obama went there during his first term, and I love to go there. They always have a great “confit de canard”, one of my favorite dishes in the world.
And I know what you really want to know but are too afraid to ask. “What about the sex clubs, Behind The Door and Silk Lips?” Sorry, I’ve never been there because they don’t exist. Both locations are based on nightclubs—swing houses—I found while researching on Internet. But still, I found a lot of sites that showed great pictures of the rooms.
Here is my advice for newer writers: You want to guide the reader to feel your story, so try to visit—physically or virtually—the places you want to write about. Pay attention to details, and take pictures. Use the photographs when you write your description—the walls were beige, and a square table with six chairs sat beneath the window. When you’re positive you’ve fully described the room, go back and review the description as if you were the reader, and decide what details are important and work to give an idea of the setting. Then cut what is not necessary, and add a little romance by adding a simile or metaphor. For instance, the cushions were the color of the sky on a sunny afternoon…and that’s it. You’re done!
And that is how I write!
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