The book starts out in Hilo, Hawaii in the year 2020. Setting it so far in the future gave me a little room to make some stuff up about the setting, but I still did a TON of research.
First I had to research the town itself. I found out that Hilo is the rainiest city in the United States. You might say, “I thought Forks, Washington was.” Turns out Forks is the rainiest city in the continental US. I had no idea that Hilo was the rainiest city until after I set the book in Hilo.
The reason I picked Hilo is because in my dream that gave birth to the book, it was clear that I was on an island, so I thought why not pick a Hawaiian island? I wanted a city that was large yet isolated so that’s why I did not pick Honolulu.
Another reason I picked Hilo, was for its surroundings. The island is tropical on one side and rocky on the other. It’s also home to the most active volcano in the world which will likely come into play in the last book.
Hilo is also not far from Punalu‘u or “Black Sand” Beach which is the exact beach you see on the cover and also the setting for a pivotal scene in the book. The black sand is due to the volcanic rock that has been ground up by the sea. The beach is very rocky and not recommended for swimming.
The symbolism of the Black Sand Beach is that it is beautiful and unique, but also dangerous like so many other elements in the book. The scene that takes place on the beach is a scene between Ava and Tom. Ava realizes her true feelings towards Tom and makes a big decision while lounging on the beach with him.