|Inspiration for "Luna Vista"|
Setting is important to me, though — however hard I struggle to evoke it. I set THE WIG IN THE WINDOW in the fictional California seaside suburb of “Luna Vista,” because I wanted to create a surreal backdrop to my mystery. Preposterous events are easier to accept when the entire world of a story is just a bit off kilter. Besides, ugly secrets are best uncovered in beautiful surroundings. Luna Vista’s surreal nature also gave me more liberties in depicting my character’s lives. My young sleuths Sophie Young and Grace Yang roam about more freely than actual suburban kids do these days— a useful ability when it comes to conducting high-stakes investigating. A more true-to-life setting might also have required them to be tethered to that universal foe of mystery: technology.
However surreal the fictional town of Luna Vista is, it was inspired by a real place: Los Angeles’ stunning Palos Verdes Peninsula, where I was lucky enough to live briefly as a kid. Luna Vista Middle School — and the beach where the book’s final late-night showdown takes place — bears a strong resemblance to my former public middle school, Malaga Cove:
Of course, halfway through sixth grade, my family moved. This was my new school:
I think I picked the right setting. Don't you?
Kristen Kittscher's debut mystery THE WIG IN THE WINDOW (Harper Children's 2013) follows the comic misadventures of two tween sleuths who suspect their school counselor is a dangerous fugitive -- and just might be right! A former middle school English teacher, Kristen lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband, Kai. When she's not writing, you'll find her running her after-school tutoring business or taking orders from her hopelessly spoiled pets. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or at Sleuths, Spies & Alibis, where she blogs with other YA & MG mystery authors.