Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Guest Post: Setting in YA Novels

So today I'm welcoming Jason Mosberg to the blog! He's here talking about setting in YA novels. Let's let him take it away, shall we?


Writers tend to put a ton of thought into their concept, genre, characters, and storylines, but I think sometimes not enough analysis goes into choosing the right location. What’s the absolute best place for a story to take place?

Setting was very important to me in writing my first novel Grift.

Grift follows a crew of orphaned teenage con artists. Piper, the main character, masquerades as a prostitute to con rich men. Unlike the others, she must split her time between hustling and raising her younger sister Sophie. Disaster strikes when Sophie gets kidnapped by the mafia, and the crew must rally to piece together the ransom money before the clock runs out.

Where does this story take place?

In Las Vegas…

Piper and the crew of con artists live with their mentor Max in the penthouse of a major hotel & casino. The lavish suite is modeled after the deck of a cruise ship with a pool, hot tub, and various rooms.

While the characters are relatable through their emotions, relationships, and conflicts, the setting really helps give the novel a larger-than-life element. These young adults live the high life in this amazing penthouse in a city nicknamed “America’s Playground.” Relative to other young adults, they’re flush with cash. They get to experience the greatest shows on the planet: bands, comedians, plays, circuses, magicians, sporting events.They meet other teens in the young Vegas social scene (which mostly consists of UNLV students). They basically inhabit some 21st century teenage version of Neverland.

From a logistical standpoint, Las Vegas is the perfect setting for this particular novel. It’s the ideal city for a con artist to operate. The easiest people to con are those looking to get rich quick. Take Mars, the pool shark. At any given pool hall in America, it’s fairly difficult to get in a game for money with strangers. In Vegas? It’s hard to go to a pool hall and not play for money. Plus, most of the people in Vegas are tourists. There are 40 million people who visit the city each year with the average person staying a mere three and a half days. Tourists make the best marks.

Setting the show in Las Vegas also facilitates making the con artists more sympathetic. They’re not conning soccer moms in Boston. They’re taking money from gamblers and men paying prostitutes.

At the beginning, I considered setting Grift in another city like Los Angeles or New York. But now, having written it, I can’t imagine the story taking place in any other city than Las Vegas.

And that’s the way it should be.

Jason Mosberg lives in Los Angeles where he works as a screenwriter. His debut novel Grift is available at Amazon and iBooks. You can follow him on Twitter @ThreeStoryJason.


Time for me to get working on my setting!

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