So what is the best way to introduce a foreign setting that our protagonist is visiting for the first time? How can we best take advantage of a new and strange environment for our story in order to foreshadow dramatic events and set the scene for conflict?
For the sake of discussion, here are two short excerpts in illustration of this:
from ASK THE DEAD
The yellow rental jeep, with its light metal frame and canvas top, seems more appropriate for Disneyland than this rugged countryside. Heading south from the airport on the coastal road, the cliffs are on my left – the same side I'd better not forget to drive on – and the proximity of empty space is both terrifying and exhilarating. When the road curves, I'm so close to the edge that I can see the roots of the palm trees growing out of the rocky cliffs. Down below, the waves of the Atlantic crash onto black sand beaches, while up here the salt spray gently stings my face. I'm entranced by the sounds of cadence-lypso on the jeep's radio, a heady mixture of calypso, rhythms from Haiti and down home funk from the U.S. If only this were a vacation.from THE LAST MATRYOSHKA
Maybe it was the grime on the cab window, but the outskirts of Moscow seemed to project the persona of a crumbled empire, tired of keeping up appearances, with only the occasional Georgian mansion or gilded church dome breaking the monotony of socialist cement. Then, as we crossed the river and drove down Tverskaya Ulitsa into the city center, the wide sidewalks began to fill with people. Even at a distance I could see that many in the crowd out-dressed the most elegant Fifth Avenue shopper. As if on cue, the haze lifted, and I found myself in a sunlit, prosperous European-style city, bustling with energy.If you are a reader or writer of international suspense, please share your thoughts here!
Our creep slowed down to a crawl, and although the streets were so wide they made the Avenue of the Americas look like a hiking trail, I felt we were in danger of being spotted by the occupants of the BMW.