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Welcome to Newark: Building the World of NONE WITHOUT SIN

NOTE: This was originally published as a guest blog post on July 2, 2022 as part of a NONE WITHOUT SIN book tour with Partners in Crime on the Book Diva's Reads blog.


Main Street, Newark, DE - Photo courtesy of PookieFugglestein, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to Newark, Delaware, home to approximately 34,000 people. If you were to pull up the city on Google Maps, you'd see that there isn't much to the city; only a little over 9 square miles in size. Newark's most notable feature is probably the campus of the University of Delaware, which is interspersed throughout the western part of downtown. It's quaint one-way Main Street is lined with shops and restaurants, which draw residents of all ages, races, and ethnicities.

Newark⎯the Newark of NONE WITHOUT SIN⎯is also home to the Newark Observer, a twice weekly newspaper run by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Brian Wilder. The Newark of the book, in many ways, resembles Newark in real life. Many of the street names are the same, as well as the major landmarks, like state parks and historical sites. There is an old church on the corner of Main and South Chapel Streets which plays a prominent role in the book, although it has been renamed in the book. If you walk along Main Street, you'll find a building clad in faded yellow brick that serves as the fictional home of the Newark Observer newspaper.

St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church (Newark, Delaware) - Photo courtesy of Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Why set my mystery novel NONE WITHOUT SIN in a real city? I could easily have created a fictional city with fictional streets and landmarks. But I've always been the kind of writer that likes to incorporate a bit of realism into my stories. The world that I see around me is far better than any world that I could create out of my imagination. Using the real city of Newark as a blueprint for my fictional one grounds the story in reality. It acts as a foundation onto which I can overlay my story with all of its plot twists, characters, and dialogue.

I've used real settings in my previous books as well, so this practice isn't new for NONE WITHOUT SIN. Two of the books were set in and around the Philadelphia area. A few readers have even expressed their excitement at the mention of a street or location in which they're familiar. They spoke of the memories the book invoked as they relived their own experiences within the limits of the city. And that is what I'm trying to do with my stories, invoke feelings. That extra bit of realism can sometimes be just enough to heighten a reader's pleasure while reading the book.

So, I say again, welcome to Newark. I hope you enjoy your stay.


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