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.