Day 27: Setting with Hesse Phillips & Louise Berliner
Our First Fifty-Day Writing Challenge
Establishing your setting and time period from the get-go of your writing process is vital in creating a memorable book, real tension, dynamic characters, and a more complex reading experience. Writers Hesse Phillips and Louise Berliner help us figure out how to do it.
Hesse Phillips (she/they) was born next-door to a chicken farm in Western PA but now lives in Spain. Their Novel Incubator project Lightborne, about the mysterious death of queer Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe, was a finalist in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2022 and is now out on submission. Their poetry and prose have appeared in The Bridport Review, the epoque (pronounced “epoch”) press e-zine, Embark: A Literary Journal for Novelists, and is forthcoming in Emerge Literary Journal, The Hyacinth Review, and other publications. They have a PhD in Drama from Tufts University and are obsessed with all things relating to sixteenth and early seventeenth century English theatre and its intersections with religion, gender, sexuality, and politics.
Another lucky Novel Incubator grad, Louise Berliner’s work has appeared in VQR, Porter Gulch Review, Ibbetson Review, The Mom Egg, Sacred Fire and various chapbook collections. Her first book, Texas Guinan GuyNan, Queen of the Night Clubs, written in part thanks to an NEH grant, is a biography of a Roaring ‘20s night club hostess famous for saying “Hello, Suckers!” Her middle grade novel, Houdini's Elephant, is with her agent and she's currently working on an adult literary novel with a magical realism kick. Her work is heavily influenced by New York City and the 20th century, as well as the ghosts of her matrilineage.
Also discussed: Ben Percy’s chapter “Activating Setting” in his craft book Thrill Me. For more book recs, check out our bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/shop/the7amnovelist