YA Indie Carnival: Settings!

Today’s YA Indie Carnival post is about SETTINGS! And there’s nothing I like better in my book than my setting. (Well, that’s only a little true, but I do love it). Gifted‘s setting (if you couldn’t tell by the cover image to your right) takes place at the circus. It’s a really important part of the story, not only because Lucy runs away to live with them, but because it’s a main staple of the Gifted world. These beings, the creatures who can’t disguise themselves as normal, they hide within circus shows because people will think it’s fake. They feel safe inside the circus, where no one can find out their identities and they can be themselves with Donovan family. Then there’s the actual story of the Donovan Circus and its members as they pertain to Gifted history, which is a whole new ballgame. Moral of the story, settings and location are ridiculously important to any story, but it’s almost a character itself in Gifted.

For my research, I looked for different terms, old layouts of real circus grounds, and the real-deal lingo. When it came to the actual circus setting, however, I studied up by watching (and rewatching) the PBS documentary Circus to learn about how they set up their grounds. I also knew going in that I was only looking for inspiration; I couldn’t copy their grounds exactly because obviously my world has magic in it, so things are going to be tweaked. My characters would be nowhere without their settings, obviously. And within each story I write about the Donovan Circus, the main setting will stay the same despite their travels to different cities. I plan to show new sections of the grounds with each story, which in turn will introduce new characters specific to their roles there (which also means new gifts to learn!).

I wanted to give a little peek into the Donovan Circus and how the troupe operates. Lucy has just arrived to the circus and met her new roommate Delia. Lucy is returning to the circus for the first time in around 12 years, so I don’t blame her for being surprised by what she finds!

Gifted, a Donovan Novel excerpt:

“We passed the grouping of campers and continued through the maze. The campers were grouped behind the tents and booths, and I could hear the low buzz of people nearby. Workers had just finished getting up The Big Top tent, the main attraction where the performance occurred each night. It sat on the back corner of the lot, guarding the living area with its side entrance providing easy availability to the performers.

“This way,” Delia said. She motioned for me to follow her.

We followed the already worn walkway around a corner, where a sea of activity blinded me. Whereas the campers were quiet, the actual circus grounds thrived with members preparing for the day.

My senses hit overdrive—colors, smells, and sounds assaulted me. Costumes covered in sequins and feathers were traded off between artists; my nose detected popcorn machines, sawdust with hay, and sweat, both human and animal. And the sounds! It was so loud between the people yelling, animals’ screeches, and equipment in use to set up stands and booths. I would have to shout at Delia to be heard.

I suddenly became very aware of why Sheffield and Delia warned me against being surprised. People made no secret of their gifts in safe company. I saw another Runner dart in and out of the crowd while Levitators floated seamlessly between the bodies. Birds flew all over, carried messages or small objects such as tools or costume props. The air filled with sounds of conversation, animals protested their displeasure of cages, and men barked orders on the best way to get tents up fast.

My heart jumped when I saw two other male Firestarters walking together. One was dressed in half a clown costume. The other one flicked a lighter and began to juggle fireballs with the clown; they walked simultaneously as they tossed them back and forth to one another, gradually creating greater space between them. Walking five feet apart, they continued juggling and while most troupe members simply walked around them and rolled their eyes, a few walked through, seemingly oblivious to the fire whizzing past their heads.”

So there you have it, my vision of the Donovan Circus. Hope you enjoyed it and of course, there’s lots more setting in the rest of the book. I’m really excited to explore more within the grounds! It’s important that my setting drive my story sometimes. It’s up to the authors to take the readers on adventures, to escape within worlds we wouldn’t normally see. Hopefully we achieve that most days 🙂

Be sure to check out all the authors who participate in our YA Indie Carnival for their fantastic blogs and books!

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