Setting, or milieu, is the foundation upon which a story is told. It sets the stage for everything else from characters to plot, so getting the setting right is one of the most important aspect of storytelling. Sometimes the setting is easy. It’s current day in the town in which you live. Other times, it’s set in a kingdom hundreds of years in the past, or in a galaxy far, far away.
The Union takes place nearly a hundred and fifty years from now. The setting definitely came to me before the story or the characters. With the constant talk of climate change and the political landscape in the United States, it wasn’t hard to imagine a world where severe climate change created a scarcity of safe drinking water which led to government regulations, resulting in unrest and ultimately a second civil war.
Getting to the darkness was easy, but crawling back out into the light took more time. What kind of society would be rebuilt? Would everyone agree on how to live? What would happen if there was still a divide in beliefs after the war? What kind of technology would they have and how advanced would it be if they had to completely rebuild a society from scratch?
All of those questions required a lot of thought, a lot of diagrams, hours of research, and pages and pages of notes about building construction, the social hierarchy, commerce, politics, and even philosophy. Only a fraction of that ever makes it into the book, but hopefully the details are evident as the story unfolds on the canvas of the Union.