Guest & Contest: JoAnne Kenrick

Setting the scene by JoAnne Kenrick

There are many things that help ‘set the scene’ in a story, and they all relay on our senses. Without setting the scene, it’s difficult for a reader to not only imagine where the story takes place, but it also makes it virtually impossible to connect to the characters. Who cares what’s happening to them, if you can’t picture where they are? Authors do this in various ways, but it usually consists of describing the setting by using the characters senses. What they can smell, hear and see. And often, what they can feel. Not with their hands, but with their emotions. What is their attachment to their surroundings? Have they been there before? Do they have psychometry type abilities…even in the slightest? Or heightened observational skills? Is there a memory they hold dear, or would rather forget, about where they are? Those are all very important to help display to the reader how the character perceives where they are.

In Dracula’s Kiss, my latest release, I wanted to set a dark mood and portray an apt location for a creepy halloween party that would lend itself well to a vampire story. I would say that I chose Slains Castle in Cruden Bay, Scotland. But I think rather, the castle choose me. I’ve long since known about this area, and it’s strong connections to Bram Stoker. I do believe it’s a perfect setting for Cathela’s encounter with a vampire dressed as Dracula to ‘blend in’. Oh the irony.

Here’s the opening scene.

A chill caught Cathela and sent shivers down her spine. She wiggled her shoulders to shake off the cold before moving through the entrance of Slain’s Castle. Unable to control her wonderment that Bram Stoker might have crossed this very path while writing Dracula, she lingered to savor the experience and placed her hand on the stone doorframe of the sixteenth century structure. After a moment, she shrugged and moved on when residual energy from her favorite writer didn’t mystically hit her. Not that she expected it to. Hoped, maybe. Instead, salty air from the North Sea filled her nostrils, and overzealous music pounded through the ground and into the soles of her feet. Heavy, aggressive, and forced. Maybe I shouldn’t have hired a non-goth DJ.

“I guess this is as close as I’m ever going to get to the Count.” She caressed her throat as she spoke his name. Dracula. Dracula…. A dream-like state washed over her, and the world became a fuzz of nothing and everything all at once. Images of her exposed neck, bite marks trickling with blood, and the presence of a man behind her flashed through her mind. She willed the next scene to reveal his face and complete her fantasy.

A seagull swooping overhead squawked, dragging her back to reality. Could be a sign. Her upturned gaze lit on a gargoyle, chipped and moss-covered, glaring down on her, its cavernous eyes seeming to watch her. A chill raced down her spine and sent goose bumps prickling over her skin. Instinct told her to listen to the warning that someone or something observed her, but she ignored that possibility.

What a silly notion. The only person paying attention to me tonight is Nick, who will be analyzing my every move to make sure I don’t mess up again. “Gawd, I’m such a ninny.”

Her shame settled in her stomach once again, and the swirling butterflies in her gut made her nauseous. She tugged the crushed-velvet cape around her chest, patted the black mesh veil over her face, and chuckled. If not that, then what?

* * * * *

JoAnne Kenrick, an ex-Ghost Tour Guide turned Romance Author, is a Welsh lass who has lived in various countries around the world. She now calls North Carolina her home, where she lives with her husband, two children and a lazy cat. When they aren’t demanding her attention, she can most likely be found watching a vampire movie, reading or baking up a British favorite in her N.C. kitchen. That is, when she isn’t writing or chatting up a storm on social networking sites. | | Facebook | Twitter

Contest details:

  • The prize is a digital copy of Dracula’s Kiss.
  • The contest is open to
  • You must leave a meaningful comment for entry. In particular, JoAnne would like you to answer: If you could choose a setting for a vampire story, where would it be and why?
  • A valid email address needs to be included in your comment.  If you’re worried about spam, please modify your address, such as admin.bookblog AT  You can also send a message to this email after your comment has been posted.
  • While following the blog isn’t required, it is appreciated.
  • The contest ends on Wednesday, November 16.
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