Imaginary Real Places by Alicia Dean

Alicia Dean
Alicia lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, a long-divorced mother of three grown children. She loves to read the same kind of books she likes to write; intense, somewhat creepy, suspenseful stories. She also loves to watch the same type of shows, especially true crime, or what her and her family members affectionately refer to as ‘murder shows.’ She tempers all the mayhem with a few sitcoms mixed in. Her favorite authors are Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Lisa Gardner, Tess Gerritsen, and Lee Child. Her favorite shows are (were) Dexter, Justified, New Girl, The Middle, Friends, Schitt’s Creek, and Haven. She hopes you enjoy her tales of love and danger, and if you have a little trouble sleeping at night because of them…well, she will feel she’s done her job. Amazon Page:

Thank you for visiting our Moonlight and Mystery Blog. I’ve enjoyed reading about the settings my fellow M&M authors use in their fantastic stories, and I hope you have too.

Picking a setting for my books is so much fun. I typically use fictitious towns so that I can have free rein to create places and characters without worrying about offending anyone or misrepresenting law enforcement or other entities. I like to make up names of towns that have a connection or hidden meaning. Such as…

Isle of Fangs:

My Isle of Fangs series is about vampires on a tropical island. I researched various island locations and chose French Polynesia because of its breathtaking beauty and the fascinating facts about the area. One of the fun things I learned, that I included in my stories was that the residents  have ‘bread boxes’ that are basically mailboxes where fresh French bread is delivered to their homes. Sounds yummy, right?


I named my island ‘Sang Croc’ because ‘sang’ is French for blood and ‘croc’ is French for fang. So, the English translation of my island is Blood Fang. What better name for an island full of vampires? Here is a short excerpt from Book 1, Liberty Awakened, when my heroine first arrives on the island.


Liberty was so blown away by the beauty of the island, she didn’t even care that much that she was homesick and terrified to meet this stranger who was supposedly her father.

She pressed her face to the taxi window so she wouldn’t miss a thing. The water of the South Pacific was a crystal clear blue-green. She could actually make out movement of fish below the surface when the taxi slowed to take a sharp turn. Tall slender palm trees bordered the road, stretching like ballerinas toward the vivid blue of the sky. It was late afternoon, and the sun shimmered like molten gold.

She lifted the garland of pink-tipped petals to her nose, inhaling the fragrant scent of the plumeria lei a pretty Polynesian girl had placed around her neck when she stepped off the plane. She hadn’t been here an hour and was already receiving the entire island experience. She would feel as though she’d landed in paradise if her reasons for coming were a little less troubling.

Soul Seducer:

My Paranormal Romance, Soul Seducer is set in Oklahoma in the fictitious town of Boon Springs. Reapers are drawn to the town due to its tragic history. Since ‘Boon’ means good fortune, I thought I’d use the ironic name for a town that is the exact opposite of fortunate. Below is a brief snippet where the history of the town is explained.

The night after Camilla’s body was found, Audra was scheduled to work a double. Mary Lou wouldn’t be in, and they were short-staffed. Audra had stopped by her house after her shift ended yesterday, to offer her condolences. The woman barely even recognized her, she was so deep in her grief. Never had Audra seen a person so destroyed.

Who could have done something so horrific? Most likely, the same psycho who’d killed those girls in surrounding towns. It was inevitable his evil would come to Boon Springs. The town was a freakin’ magnet for tragedy and destruction.

Haunting at Spook Light Inn:

My gothic mystery novella is set in a real place in Northeastern Oklahoma, on the border of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. I was looking for some kind of superstition or legend in Oklahoma to base the mystery on, and my research led me to discover a ‘Spook Light.’  I was delighted when I noticed the Spook Light is in Quapaw, Oklahoma, which is 15 miles from where my sister and brother-in-law live in Miami, Oklahoma. Two of my friends and I took a road trip to the area, and my sister drove us out to the road. Myself and another friend thought we ‘might’ have seen the spook light, but we aren’t certain. I can tell you one thing, “Spook Light Road” is one of the darkest places I’ve ever been to.

A short snippet from my story:

Half an hour later, I’d finished laying out most of the groundwork for the book, going over my notes about the legends I’d already researched. I had to admit, they were quite intriguing. And, while I didn’t believe some ghostly light bobbed and bounced on the road, I did wonder about the source. There had been too many sightings, too many photos to discount it completely.

Skeptics claimed it was car lights from Route 66. But supposedly, the legends had begun during the Trail of Tears in 1838—well before there were cars on the road—when a young Indian girl spotted the light moving through the trees. In 1946, the Army Corps of Engineers had come to check out the light and their analysis was that it was “a mysterious light of unknown origin,” If even they couldn’t attribute it to headlights, then I had to assume that wasn’t where the light came from. Certainly, some of the sightings could be car headlights, but most likely not all of them.

Several paranormal investigators had studied it over the years. Many of them claimed to have seen it, and none could determine exactly what it was. The first documented report was in 1881. So, plenty of fodder for all the supernatural enthusiasts. But, what was the actual truth? That was what I was here to learn.

Originally, I titled my story ‘Devil’s Promenade’ because the area is also known by that name. But I decided too many people would think it was about satanism. What do you think? Should I have left the original title?





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  • PamT

    WOW…LOVE the way you chose your settings!
    Great post.
    Love the excerpts
    Good luck and God’s blessings

    1. Alicia Dean

      Thank you, Pam. It’s definitely a fun part of the process.

  • Alina K. Field

    I love the idea of having bread delivered in my mailbox as long as they wrap it!

    1. Alicia Dean

      Ha, I know. I was a little put off by the unprotected bread jutting out of the mailbox. 😉

  • Kathryn Knight

    You came up with such great names for your places! I do think Spook Light Inn is a better name in terms of representing the story–sounds like a great one! I have often made up fictitious places within real places as well, for the reasons you mention. “Gull Harbor” is a fictional town set in a very read area of Cape Cod, and “Silver Lake” is a fictional lake set in a real area of Connecticut. It’s fun to invent!

    1. Alicia Dean

      Thank you! I’m glad to hear you think it’s a better title. I’ve wondered if I should have changed it. Devil’s Promenade is a cool name, but a little misleading. 🙂 Ah, yes, so you do the same. Yep, so much fun to invent!

  • Marissa Garner

    What a variety of settings! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Alicia Dean

      You’re welcome…thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Maureen

    I enjoyed the post. I’m currently enjoying the Haunting at Spook Light Inn, so it was really cool to see the pics and read about some of the backstory.

  • Sharon Buchbinder

    Alicia, I like the idea of the bread boxes–but I’ll take wine instead! Great way to name your towns. 🙂

  • Susan Coryel

    Not wanted to offend anybody or mis-represent something I know little about, I used my place of residence as setting for my cozy/Southern Gothic trilogy The Overhome Trilogy, but I changed the name: Actual place is Smith Mountain Lake; fictional name is Moore Mountain Lake. Solving that problem, I did not realize until AFTER publication that there is an actual Overton family living in Overhome Estate. GAAHH!
    Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

  • Diane Burton

    Great post, Alicia. I loved both of the books mentioned. Setting has a powerful impact in a paranormal story. The atmosphere is like a character. I prefer using a fictional place with references to real towns nearby. That way I can create my setting without readers saying “she got that wrong.” LOL

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