This Writer Wednesday we welcome award -winning and multi-published Megan Kelly. So fill your cup with your favorite beverage and enjoy her twist on small town settings.
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Why do authors make up towns for their stories? Isn’t it easier to set a story in a real place? Yes. And no.
I set my first book in Chicago with some of the action taking place outside the city. I needed “corporate” America, a wealthy setting outside the city, and a small-town feel. My next three stories took place in a fictional town north of Kansas City, Missouri. I’m familiar with Chicago and Kansas City from visits to my family, which made researching people, customs, food, language, landmarks, etc, easier.
Being able to research in person or online is one advantage to using a real-life setting. In many instances, I can find a street map and other information from the city’s Chamber of Commerce or online. Writing about a real place can evoke memories in readers who have been to that town or area. It creates a sense of connection between the reader and the story.
Which can backfire! If I make a mistake, I’ll hear about it from readers. The town might change from their visit to my writing the story, or from the time I write the story to the time they read it.
Sometimes, if I write about a real town, readers think they know (or are!) the characters. Since the human experience is pretty much universal, events may seem similar to things people have experienced. I don’t want to be sued for my imagination.
As you might guess, I prefer a fictional setting. When the characters tell me about their lives, I also “see” where they live. My details aren’t limited by reality. I can place businesses where I need them for story events. I’m constantly surprised by what’s around the next corner.
In my Christmas stories, Santa Dear and Holly & Ivey, I created the sister cities, Stilton and Cloverdale, Illinois. You can only visit them in my books, but you can find many small towns like them in the Midwest.
This holiday season, I’ll be returning to Stilton for Micah’s story. Hope to see you there!
Megan Kelly is the author of six contemporary romances, all available digitally on your favorite e-readers, the first four available in print at used book stores. Visit her website for more information: http://www.megankellybooks.com