I am a product of small towns ... and so is the heroine of my new romantic suspense, Dead Man Stalking. Tessa, our heroine, is the news reporter for the only radio station in greater Fortuna, Ohio, and her life is little outside the bounds of normal. Unless, of course, "normal" includes inheriting a dog with the ghost of a past boyfriend attached, learning that the dismembered body discovered in a local warehouse is the ex-wife of a different boyfriend and, oh, yeah, crushing big-time on the state cop sent in to investigate the murder.
Dead Man Stalking is funny, or at least meant to be. It's populated by a composite of all those people I've come to know in the small towns I've called home over the years, from the local police chief to the town busybody. Even the motel in Dead Man Stalking is based on the no-tell motel outside one of those towns. Important Note: The description is all made up -- I did NOT occupy any of our local dive's rooms!
My novels are set in small towns for a reason: I love small towns. I like knowing everybody I meet on the street. I like sitting on my porch with the dog and having folks just stop and say hello. I like the way everyone seems to be connected to everyone else, whether through family ties, church, school or work.
And I especially like small town festivals. I spent last weekend at the Quilt Festival in South Shore, Kentucky, meeting people and signing books, and felt very comfortable bringing along an 11-year-old (we'll call her The Kid) and letting her roam. Yeah, she checked in periodically but only for more money!
My favorite moment of the Quilt Festival is a simple one. As their final number, the bluegrass band on stage launched into a rousing version of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" Dorothy, who was working at the mayor's re-election campaign booth next to me, starting singing, and so did I.
The Kid began to ease back in her chair. Dorothy and I exchanged glances, leaned in and began to harmonize. As we hit the final notes, Dorothy moves in close to her ear and The Kid cringes and covers her eyes in complete and total embarrassment.
Yep, good times in a small town ... what could be better than that?