Sunday, October 17, 2010

Setting as character

Setting is important in a story.  In my novel CROSSED OUT I use a world I'm familar with: Sacramento, Ca.   Sacramento is rich with history. I grew up in South Sacramento and thought I’d use the city as the setting for my paranormal CROSSED OUT. My one side of the family came over to Sacramento in the later part of the 1800s from Italy. My great-grandfather Francisco Baccellia had a number of saloons around the end of the 19th century. I loved the stories my grandfather would tell me about Old Town Sacramento. One story involved these sisters who would walk up and down the American River dressed all in black.

Here's a photo my younger sister Autumn sent me on the flood in Old Town Sacramento, 1861.  This happened almost every year until the damn was built.

In keeping with the stories of Grandpa Baccellia, I thought I’d share some haunted spots:

1. Sacramento Historical Cemetery

My great-grandfather Baccellia was originally buried here but was relocated in the 1950s due to city relocation. Most of the founding fathers were buried here. Rumor has it that the cemetery is haunted. If your body was moved, wouldn’t you be kind of restless? The cemetery has annual events including a Halloween one.

2. Underground Sacramento Tunnels

Rumor has it that these forgotten tunnels were used to help transport things as the city used to flood every year before the Orville Damn was built. Lots of history here. They should be offering tours sometime soon!

3. Sacramento City Library

Rumor has it that the California Section is haunted. There have been sightings of an old man with glasses looking over old books. Even better they say that the underground tunnels were connected to the library.

4. The American River

This river has taken many including those who thought they could handle the currents Some say the ghost of a man who drowned in the river is said to haunt the banks.

5. And we can’t forget one of the famous ghosts: May Woolsey

May died of encephalitis September 2, 1870, just a few months before her thirteenth birthday. Some 100 years later, a trunk was found in a hidden wall that contained some of her belongings. It contained a letter, with part of the bottom of the page missing. Some feel that May was trying to contact her mother from beyond the grave. Many people say they still feel May’s presence at her gravestone.

In CROSSED OUT, Stephanie encounters a couple of haunted places. One is a coffee house that isn’t all it seems. And another takes place on a deserted part of the McClellan Airbase.  The base was closed in the early 90s and now has a museum and some other businesses though my stepfather says there's still deserted places there.

Stephanie is used to going to the sites of murdered girls. Find out more in my book available now at Amazon!


  1. Great pictures, Kim. Great ghost stories too. To me the setting of a story can add so much to the plot, especially when you're dealing with ghosts and other worldy characters.

  2. Yes, it does. Thanks for your comments!

  3. Kim, great post! And you're right: the setting is another character in the story.

  4. Having never been to CA,I didnt realize how rich the history was in Sacramento. Great post.

  5. Yes, Old town Sacramento has tons of rich history. My grandpa Baccellia used to tell me stories of his father and his salon. I used to love to hear the stories which included some ghost tales.

  6. Kim, You're right. Often the setting does take on the aspects of a character. Enjoyed the pictures.

  7. Long time Sacramento residentDecember 10, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    Nice. Just a few corrections, the photo in #3 is the state library, and the photo with the river boat is the Sacramento River. The confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers is less than a mile upstream, common mistake.