Monday, June 24, 2013

Roxann Delaney: The Heart of Small Towns

Each reader has his or her own favorite setting for stories.  For me, it’s small towns, and I love writing about them.
I was born and raised (to the age of twelve) in a city with a population of around 200,000, although it’s much larger now.  Soon after turning twelve, my parents and I moved to a small town, where my mother’s family had settled in 1886.  I lived there until I married, twelve years later, and then lived on a farm for twenty-four years.  I’m back in the city again, but let’s face it, those years between twelve and twenty-four are the most memorable of my growing-up years.  When we moved there, the population was approximately 1200.  Definitely small town America.
So what’s so great about small towns?  It’s easy to know nearly everyone.  Or at least have an idea of who someone is.  Community events are attended by many, and school events are the most popular.  Most children can walk to school, although I’ll be honest and say that by the time I was in high school, friends who had cars would take me to school.  And I lived across the street from the football field!  A five-minute walk. ;)  In the summer, I would walk to the swimming pool or the park to watch a Little League baseball game, and later wander to a friend’s house or downtown to grab a soda.  It was safe.  It was comfortable.  And in many places, it still is.
As kids growing up in a small town, we knew not only our classmates, but their siblings and parents, too.  The small, local newspaper at that time had a column about friends visiting friends, a trip to visit relatives, visitors to their homes and all kinds of fun tidbits aka town gossip.  People in the town—the community—were part of our lives.  People married, babies were born and people died, and we all knew about it quickly.  It had that close-knit feeling of family.
Of course there’s the downside of a small town.  Gossip can spread like wildfire, and people can sometimes know too much about your life.  There’s also the problem of not being able to get away with something as a child or teen (or even an adult!), because someone is going to know the truth.  There’s one grocery store in town, no big clothing store (definitely not a Walmart), a couple of taverns, and two, maybe three small cafes.  Class sizes in the schools are small, so teachers know who your parents are and aren’t afraid to tell them how good or bad you’re doing, even when they meet on the street.
Good or bad, these are the things that become inspiration for stories.  For me, the result is a series of eight books set in Desperation, a fictional town in Oklahoma.  Five years of writing about the characters who live there gives me the feeling of being back in that small town where I grew to adulthood.  I hope I’ve been able to share with readers the warmth that I once felt.
Yes, I do know a little about small towns.  Will I write a story set in a big city?  Someday.  But small town charm has claimed my heart.
I’d love to learn your favorite settings and why, so feel free to share them, whether big cities, small towns, foreign countries or even the past or future.  One winner of an autographed copy of DESIGNS ON THE COWBOY (June 2013) will be chosen from the comments.

Learn more about Desperation and me on my website, my blog-Diary of a Mad Romance Writer, or visit me on Facebook or Facebook Page, and sometimes even Twitter @roxdelaney.


Laurie G said...

I grew up in a city of 12,000. However, it had all the things you mentioned: community spirit, friendships, and safety. I walked and biked everywhere. We never locked our doors.

I like the sense of belonging you get in a small town setting.

I also like exotic settings as a way to travel and learn customs and cultures different from the USA.

Lindsey Brookes said...

Love small towns! Can't wait to read Designs on the Cowboy. Great cover by the way. Several of the books I've written are in small town settings with cowboys/lawmen in them.

Kidnapped Cowboy

joye said...

I grew up in a small town and like reading stories set in them. Seems like everyone in the town knows about you and your romantic endeavors. Sometimes that can be a help instead of a hinderance.

Pat Cochran said...

I was born in what is now the 4th largest city
in the country. I've lived here all my life and
have enjoyed all this city's growth period.
We live in the suburbs, which gives us a taste
of small town life plus access to all the big
city activities.

Pat C.

Anita said...

I grew up in a town of about 1500... until a tornado wiped it off the map and it was rebuilt, now there are 700, and we live just outside of town. I love rural settings, ranches and tiny towns :) Cities are fun to visit, but I love being in the country :)

Rox Delaney said...

I'm so sorry I haven't been back to read your comments, but I was in the middle of some website work, and then the electricity went off for a few hours. One of those days. :(

Laurie G, it's always nice to read about other places. Foreign locals can teach us so much! And 12,000 isn't all that big when compared to the big cities. ☺

Rox Delaney said...

Hi Lindsey! It's always great to see one of the Ditzy Chix! Love the humor in your books!

Rox Delaney said...

joye, yes, it's hard to keep those romantic endeavors a secret in a small town. Then there are those who like to embellish a little. ;)

Rox Delaney said...

Pat, suburbs are the perfect cousin to small towns. The community feel is just as strong. I'm sure you enjoy it!

Rox Delaney said...

Anita, I sometimes miss living in the country, even more than that small town. City isn't living bad, just different. And I hear you on the tornadoes! We went through a few of those scary times (still do!). So glad you're here to tell about it. Stay safe!

Rox Delaney said...

Thank you, all, for stopping by!

And, Lindsey, I hope you like DESIGNS ON THE COWBOY. I'm sure you'll let me know. :)

Mary Preston said...

I must say that I don't have an absolute favorite setting. So long at it's a good fit for the story, I'm happy to travel the globe - town and country.

Jo's Daughter said...

I do prefer small town stories, live in a small town myself and like the cozy feeling it gives me. Recognising faces and dogs :) aswell as buildings andvtrees.