October 5, 2014

Eden Conner’s South Carolina

Shopping for a location for your next novel? I’ve never felt the need to look beyond my adopted state of South Carolina. As one of the original thirteen colonies, we have everything the historical novelist could ask for, from the early settlement of Charles Towne Landing to the Pirate House in Charleston, rumored to have hosted Blackbeard himself. Don’t forget, Charleston’s the birthplace of Rhett Butler, the most infamous of southern bad boys.

Prefer a mountain setting? How about a romantic wedding at Symme’s Chapel? Called Pretty Place by locals, the chapel is located near Caesar’s Head just outside of Greenville and offers a jaw-dropping backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Speaking as a former wedding photographer, it’s one of the most beautiful wedding chapels I’ve ever seen—despite my fear of heights.
Figure 3 Symme's Chapel, Caesar’s Head, Greenville County, S.C.

Want to write a military story? South Carolina participated in the Revolutionary War, and those who know nothing else about the state can tell you we started the Civil War.

If you write contemporary novels, Columbia is home to Fort Benning, and North Charleston was home to a massive Navy base until the late 1990s. In fact, the base sits unoccupied today. I’ve long thought the Admiral’s house looks like a tempting location for a story.

Speaking of unique settings, South Carolina is the nation’s second-largest peach producer. 
The state is dotted with massive peach farms. Driving down the back roads near my home, I often see this scene in springtime, so often that I set a series, Those Devilish De Marco Men, on an eight-hundred acre peach farm. 

Novels need more than location, of course. They need conflict and tension. The people of South Carolina are conservative, religious, and hard-working, but the state doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to civil rights. We still have three active klaverns of the Ku Klux Klan, and despite a Supreme Court ruling in 1967 that outlawed bans on interracial marriage, South Carolina’s anti-miscegeny laws stayed on the books until 1991. I’ve used all those facts in my interracial novels. 

The current state attorney general seems poised to back the state referendum that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, so any LGBT author could set a story here and not have to work hard to escalate the tension. 
The conservative mindset led state lawmakers to repeal the law allowing video poker parlors in 2000. To date, South Carolina stands alone as the only major jurisdiction to ever have allowed this type of gambling and then made it illegal. I, for one, don’t miss the jangling noise when stopping for gas, because rather than large casinos, the video poker industry was mostly confined to a few machines in the back of every convenience store, but the fact was unique enough to lead me to start a new series with a story, Rain on Me, centered around the ban on video poker. 

To make your story feel authentic, you’ll need to know that the common forms of address are ‘ma’am’, ‘sir’, and ‘y’all’. ‘All y’all’ is grammatically correct when referring to more than two. No one will bat an eyelash if you say ‘ain’t’. Sweet tea is the house wine. That’s black tea laced with enough sugar to start a cavity—and please add that sugar while the tea’s fresh-brewed, then pour it over ice. And if you visit, do ask a native to teach you the state dance, the Carolina Shag.

(All info provided by author) 


  1. A lot of wonderful authors and books come from South Carolina. I enjoyed learning more about your state.

  2. Thanks for the romp through neighboring state of South Carolina. I love to go to Charleston and Hilton Head and almost always write while there. Continued success with your writing!

  3. Thanks for dropping by, Jacqueline.
    Susan, those are favorite destinations for me, too. Have you been to Pawley's Island? Definitely worth the trip.

  4. Hi, Eden,
    Thanks for such a wonderful tour of South Carolina, and for the gorgeous pictures. I set my second novel (not released yet) outside Charleston and believe that the state is one of the richest in the country in terms of history and local culture. Your books sound interesting, and I'd love to check them out.

  5. Amy, good luck on your release! Outside Charleston..where? Goose Creek or farther afield? SC has everything a novelist could want, I feel. Mountains, beaches, history, dirty politicians... (Who can forget the Luv Gov and his mistress in Rio? :p

  6. Yes, we do have the perfect setting no matter what you're looking for in SC. Who knew such a small state could pack in so much! And don't forget political scandal too - our former Governor Sanford provided plenty of that!

  7. South Carolina is a beautiful state. We spent a week on Kiaweh Island some years ago and toured Charleston. When I was a child, on a trip with my family, we went to Boone Hall near Mt. Pleasant. That made such an impression that I took my husband there on a trip south when we were dating, and we went back there on our vacation on Kiawah. Thanks for the fond memories and the beautiful pictures.

  8. Thanks for dropping by, Cara. You've certainly seen some of the best places the state has to offer. Come back soon. :)

  9. Hi, Eden,
    I never name the place in the book. All I say is that it's outside Charleston, because I don't like to set my novels in real towns, for the most part. But take your pick--there are so many great places around Charleston!

  10. I've never visited but my cousin sure enjoyed her time there. Thanks for the pictures and descriptions.

  11. Amy, I used to be vague as well, but since I started naming names, I've gotten many e-mails from readers. They get excited when they see a place in a book that they've visited or have a connection to that I plan to keep up the practice.

    Thanks for the visit and comment, Stephen :)

  12. Eden, my soon-to-be-released novel is set in Kansas City in an actual neighborhood. Although I changed the names of the precise residences of the fictional characters, I name many businesses and popular surroundings. I hope people enjoy seeing the names of places they know--or, if they are from elsewhere, I hope they enjoy learning about Kansas City. Thanks for telling us about South Carolina.

  13. WOW--wonderful, giving chance for memories of visits to this state!

  14. Confusing--did my comment (praise!) go through or not?

  15. Joyce, I think you'll be surprised at how well readers respond. Google maps can take your reader to the front door of your setting, and I honestly think that it's a game-changer in terms of reader engagement. When my daughter was hooked on Twilight, she was thrilled to find the locations mentioned in the book were visible to her on Google maps.

    Radine, thanks for dropping by. Come on back to SC any time. We'll keep the lights on for ya :)


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