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Monsters: 30 DAYS OF NIGHT: The importance of Setting in Fiction Writing

In the small Alaskan town of Barrow, the sun does not rise for 30 days—there is literally 30 days of night.  Is there a better place to set a vampire story?  Well, yes perhaps in those few places where the sun doesn’t rise for six whole months, but that is beside the point.

Despite that fact that I have trouble becoming immersed in graphic novels—they are overwhelming —too many visual things interspersed with words.  Visual over-stimulation, but that is me personally.  I have trouble following and become immersed.  I feel distanced, and would much rather read a story in a standard novel format with the ability to go deeper into the minds of the characters.

What I want to talk about with 30 Days of Night is how it illustrates the importance of setting, not only in the horror genre, but in fiction in general.  The setting in any story must be an intricate part, a character, in the tale.  How do you know if this is the case?  By asking yourself if the story could be told in any other time or place.  If it can, then more work can be done in the area of setting.  If you can plop your story into another city and it not change the story fundamentally, the setting is not a character in the book.

In 30 Days of Night, the setting is a character and a badass antagonist at that.  Yes, the vampires themselves are antagonists, bad-guys, the villains, but it is really that setting that has the most devasting effects—the most ominous of things.  Take this story and set it somewhere else entirely and then the vampires are toast at daybreak, or at least the victims offer a reprieve until night.  So with this week reading the stand-out portion is the setting.

Other areas were interesting in the way the vampires themselves portrayed, and truly they are some of the most frightening vampires I’ve read in a long time.  But this too, I believe has much to do with setting and the constant tension it plays.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy the book—too hard to read, visually distracting, and not immersive enough.  But it is a tale of classic and terrifying vampiric mayhem, in a claustrophobic setting with a chilling premise.  Let’s see a full-length Novel of this story, and THAT would be frightening.

“The comic in your hands has much of the raw, even brutal energy of a horror movie from the good old days. Short, sharp and unforgiving. It’s got a catchy title, a wonderfully clever, but the simple idea at its chilly heart, and a narrative that starts at a run and never slows down.” — Clive Barker


 And this Blog posts concludes my semester of studying Monsters!  I am feeling accomplished to have finished, but sad that I will miss reading about so many different monsters!


Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.