Interview with an Author: Cori Lynn Arnold on Setting

Cori Lynn Arnold

Cori Lynn Arnold

In 2016, I plan to continue my bi-weekly “Interview with” Series (alternate weeks will feature posts on the writing life by yours truly), but this year I’m doing something a little bit different: I’m asking each guest to talk about a specific element of the writing process. That brings me to the introduction of my first guest: Cori Lynn Arnold, who is going to discuss the importance of setting in a story.

I first met Cori Lynn Arnold at Bloody Words 2014 in Toronto and we now connect through Sisters in Crime Guppies, where Cori volunteers as WebGuppy. This past summer, I won a copy of Cori’s most recent novel, NORTHERN DECEIT. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, especially the way Cori used the location of North Pole, Alaska, as a character that was every bit as important to the story as her protagonist. Here’s a brief synopsis:

Angry over being kicked off a case in Rochester, New York, Detective Louis Baker makes a rash decision to fly to Alaska when her partner, Detective Bert Hicks, calls from North Pole, Alaska. Not only is his mother missing, but he needs to be bailed out of jail. When his mother’s charred body is found down a desolate road, her secret life begins to unfold, and the harsh Alaskan wilderness becomes as formidable as finding the killer.

north-pole-ak-where-itJudy:  What made you choose North Pole, Alaska, in NORTHERN DECEIT?

Cori: Write what you know, they say. I know North Pole since I lived there for almost fifteen years on and off throughout my life. I like the idea of my characters having secrets they hold back, and I couldn’t blame Hicks for not wanting to tell people he is from Alaska until it was necessary (like calling from jail for help from his partner). Though I’m more apt to tell people I’m from Connecticut (where I now live), I was pretty hesitant for a while due to the loaded questions involving a certain Tina Fey look-a-like. And no, I cannot see Russians from my front door.

Judy: What were the advantages and disadvantages of using a real place, vs. a fictional one?

Santa Claus House, North Pole, Alaska

Santa Claus House, North Pole, Alaska

Cori: What’s nice about using North Pole, specifically, is that I don’t just know about the locations, but the history of the locations. Everywhere has quirks, and North Pole’s spread out rural landscape, Santa Claus House, and kitschy street names make for realistic details you’d have a hard time making up.

Judy: What or who inspired you to become a writer?

Cori: I spent four months slowly being laid off from my tech job in late 2011. I’d had a dozen or so ideas for novels (including one in 4th grade) and always put them aside as I’d been too busy. But after a month I was ready to do something productive. I had an idea, some characters, and I just started writing. I had a brilliant time, met some new people, and felt like I was doing something productive.

Judy: What advice and/or resources would you recommend for aspiring writers?

Cori: I went to a workshop at Left Coast Crime last year where Robert Dugoni described his self-driven writing program instead of getting an MFA. He read a series of writing books, best-selling fiction and took extensive notes on both. I’ve approached my writing similarly. I read as much as I can, usually early in the morning, making notes of what I like in plot, description or pace. And I read writing methodology books like Lawrence Block’s Writing the Novel.

Judy: Do you have a favorite book of all time? 

Cori: I will buy a copy of the Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger every time I see it in the store. I’ve thrust that book in many people’s hands.

Judy: What are you currently reading?

Cori: My nightstand has John Grisham’s The Innocent Man and in the living room I’m reading The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I have novels started on my phone and iPad as well. My “hurry up and wait” life requires a lot of fiction.

Judy: What’s next for Cori Lynn Arnold?

Cori: I have three novels in various states of completion, mostly rough drafts. My plan for 2016 is to have one edited, critiqued, beta read and ready to pitch this fall, specifically for the Crime Bake conference.

Thank you, Cori, for taking the time to visit.

Northern Deceit 200 x 320NORTHERN DECEIT is available at all the usual suspects, including AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo and Smashwords.

Find Cori Lynn Arnold on:





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25 responses to “Interview with an Author: Cori Lynn Arnold on Setting

  1. Judy Penz Sheluk

    It was fun!

  2. susanintoronto

    Thanks for sharing this interview, Judy and Cori.

    That was a great time in 2014, meeting up with both of you (via Guppies) at Bloody Words.

  3. Cori Lynn Arnold

    Your in luck Lourdes, I’m working on another one set in Alaska!

  4. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Lourdes for stopping by!

  5. I love novels set in Alaska. I’ll have to read this one!

  6. Judy Penz Sheluk

    I love my Kobo, but a lot of books aren’t available on Kobo.

  7. Kristina Stanley

    Congrats, I’m honoured and welcome to the kindle world. You’ll love it.

  8. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Me too…and your book was my very first Kindle download 🙂

  9. Kristina Stanley

    Yay. I’m so happy to hear that.

  10. Judy Penz Sheluk

    as an FYI, I finally have an iPad and downloaded the Kindle app and started reading Descent last night 🙂

  11. Kristina Stanley

    Now I really must read it.

  12. Judy Penz Sheluk

    I really enjoyed it, Kristina!

  13. Kristina Stanley

    Northern Deceit looks like I book I would love. Thanks for letting me know about it.

  14. Cori Lynn Arnold

    Thanks, Joanne!

  15. Cori Lynn Arnold

    Thanks, Susan! Tell me how it goes.

  16. Cori Lynn Arnold

    Sometimes it comes down heavy, but most of the time it’s dry and sandy. Also, the air is so still when it’s really cold that you can blow it off the trees.

  17. Cori Lynn Arnold

    You’ve been to North Pole? Fun place, isn’t it!

  18. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Joanne for stopping by. It was great to have Cori as my first guest in 2016.

  19. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks for stopping in, Susan. Cori does a great job of using her setting as a character.

  20. Judy Penz Sheluk

    I had no idea, Cori. Beats the heavy wet stuff we get where I live!

  21. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Sheri. I knew Cori, but until I read her book, I had no idea she was from North Pole! It’s a great read as well.

  22. Hi Cori, Excellent interview and advice! Best of luck with Northern Deceit and all your literary endeavors in 2016. 🙂

  23. Susan Van Kirk

    Sounds like a fascinating setting. Thanks for talking about your reading/note-taking plan. I am always looking forways to increase my craft knowledge.

  24. Cori Lynn Arnold

    Everyone has questions about Alaska… feel free to write them here, and I’ll reply 🙂 For instance, did you know that snow in my hometown has a texture like sand because the air is so dry?

  25. eightpawswriting

    Super interview. I agree settings bring a story to life and act as interesting characters. It’s fun to read about places I haven’t seen, but if I’ve traveled there I can relate and feel more involved in the story.

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