June 28, 2012

Larry talks about...setting and The Priest and the Peaches

1. Why did you choose this setting?
I was born and raised in NYC (the Bronx) so the setting was ingrained in me: the people, the sights and sounds, the places, the smells, style of living, etc.

2. How is it a fundamental part of your overall theme?
The setting is in a blue-collar neighborhood of God fearing, family oriented, hard working men and women, husbands and wives and their children, who were more or less all on the same socio-economic level and for the most part were mostly Catholic (of varied ethnicities) sharing a similar value system. This value system is part of the Peach kids and the people in the neighborhood understand it.

3. How challenging was it to write about?
The challenge was in creating a sense of place. For example, in NYC there are many ethnic groups that are always interacting and fifty years ago there was a lot more of the old-world customs that were still very pronounced within these different groups. So, sometimes the interaction among the folks was strained because of "differences". Amazingly, most folks learned to get along. But some never did and that would lead to prejudices.

4. How did you develop your setting as you wrote your book?
The setting was more or less established early on in the book. It was a neighborhood in the Bronx back in the mid 1960s and the people there were more or less living comparable lives. Once that was established the setting was in place for the rest of the book.

5. How do you transport them there through your writing?
I try not to be overly descriptive because the action and dialogue and emotions might be shut down. So I think the answer to this might be through dialogue and inner emotion which I try to show using omniscience.

6. How do you introduce them to an area they may not be familiar with?
This is where description comes in. I do try to introduce the impending description through dialogue or a visual by a character. For example, Teddy and Scratch arrive at the funeral parlor and talk a bit before going in. Once inside, Scratch leaves Teddy alone and then Teddy begins looking around. Now I can describe what he is seeing which is the lobby of the funeral home.

7. How do you go about making the setting come alive for the reader?
I guess you have to try to make sure that the setting and the characters and the various scenes all come together. I mean, don't write a descriptive scene if you don't need it. It has to be part of the emotion of the moment. Who cares about "beautiful flowers up on the hill" if they have nothing to do with the story. If someone is hiding behind the flowers with a high-powered rifle, then there is a point to writing about it.