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Guest Post: Setting’s Importance

Not as We Knew It


By Marilyn Meredith

My hostess, Thonie Hevron, made the suggestion for this topic, and it’s a good one.

Though there is no real town of Rocky Bluff, it is similar to another town set on the Pacific coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara. It is only vaguely similar however, since Rocky Bluff is a much smaller community, and the geography is different in a major way.

Both towns are divided by the 101 Highway, with the part near the beach being where the business and most of the homes are situated. The other side is more rural with ranches and orange groves. A big difference is the bluff which gives my town its name and where the homes are larger and far more expensive.

When I first began writing this series, I lived in a beach town not far from my fictional setting. I know what the weather is like, the ocean often bringing in a blanket of fog, and the only time the temperature rises is when an East wind strikes.  Living close to the ocean, means being able to smell the saltiness on the breeze, and when close enough, to enjoy the glorious differences of the blues in the water, and watch the waves come into shore. I try to put in words what the characters in my mysteries experience through sight, sound, and smell.

In my latest, Not As We Knew It, number 16 in the series, the intersection of the 101 highway plays a major part in one of the subplots. The fact that Rocky Bluff is between Ventura and Santa Barbara is important to one of the mysteries.

When writing one these mysteries, I transport myself to this fictional town in my mind, and picture what is going on around the characters as the story plays out. How the weather is affecting what is going on, when one must travel what he or she sees along the way, and how other factors that are important to the story are being affected.

About Not As We Knew It: The challenges come one after another for the Rocky Bluff P.D. to handle―from a missing woman to a fatal house fire. Detective Doug Milligan is faced with new and unusual problems to solve, some on the job and others related to his family. With the department shorthanded because of the Covid virus, Chief Chandra Taylor must make some hard decisions in order to protect the town of Rocky Bluff.

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Marilyn Meredith

About Marilyn: Marilyn Meredith is the author of over 40 published novels, including the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, which she writes as F. M. Meredith, and the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. She is a member to two branches of Sisters in Crime, and the Public Safety Writers Association. Over the years she’s taught writing for Writers Digest School, and at many writers and mystery conferences. She now lives in the foothills of the Sierra with her husband and other family members.