It's time for some more #meandering, this time to Massachusetts, USA. Today, I welcome a new Crooked Cat Books author friend, Joan Livingston, who has kindly popped in to tell us about places she loves to stroll around-physically and in her writing!
Although I have been to some small towns in the US, I've never been to the area that Joan's mentioning today.
Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts
I am a big fan of small towns, I mean really small towns of 2,000 people or fewer, the smaller the better. Yes, I’ve lived in cities, but I want to be in a place where I can easily know who lives there with me — for better or worse.
I tend to read books set in small towns. I write about them as well. Actually, most of my novels are set in a fictional hilltown called Conwell, including my mysteries series featuring Isabel Long. The first mystery, Chasing the Case, will launch May 18 to be followed by Redneck’s Revenge in the fall. Currently, I am working on the third, Checking the Traps.
There is no such town called Conwell in Western Massachusetts although I will admit the name has significance to the town of Worthington, where my family and I lived for over two decades. Russell H. Conwell, who was born there, founded Temple University in Philadelphia. He was a whole lot of things like a minister, orator (his most famous speech is called Acres of Diamonds), philanthropist, and more. The elementary school my kids attended was named for him.
|Corners Grocery, Worthington MA -Wikimedia Commons|
But Conwell is not Worthington although there are similarities. Both have one general store, one church, one school, one stoplight, and one bar. Forests cover most of the town, and it’s a bit of a hilly commute to a city. There’s a constant stream of newcomers seeking the good life in the country. And, as I’ve written, people can be nosy and helpful. Yes, there are feuds. And lots of dirt roads that get muddy in the spring.
As I like to say, I take what I know and have my way with it.
I feel I can get easily drop a mystery in Conwell and the other fictional hilltowns I’ve created for my series. I’ve got to give Isabel Long something to do after she got canned by the newspaper where she was the managing editor. So she decides to solve a 28-year-old mystery of a woman disappearing in her town. Did anything like that ever happen? Nah.
It’s been easy to create such a town as a setting for my novels. I became immersed in the hilltowns when I reported on them for many years for the local daily newspaper. I remained interested after that ended. The hilltowns, its people and landscape were still a part of me when we moved 2,400 miles away to Northern New Mexico. After 11 years, we’ve returned to another town in Massachusetts. Didn’t I say I like small towns?
Nancy says: I love mysteries so I really think I'll be enjoying yours soon!
My mystery, Chasing the Case, published by Crooked Cat Books, is set for a May 18 launch.
Readers can pre-order the Kindle version here:
The paperback version should be out soon.
My website: http://www.joanlivingston.net
Thank you, Nancy, for this opportunity to be a guest on your blog.
You're very welcome, Joan. Come back soon. Best wishes with you launch and happy writing!