Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Guest Author: Wendy Gager
When I write, I usually have my own idea of the setting based on places I’ve been or lived. The Mitch Malone Mysteries are set in Grand River which I’ve fictionalized from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I fictionalized it because cities change and grow and I didn’t want to be inaccurate. (In the first book, A
CASE OF INFATUATION, I wanted the police station to be where is used to be and not in its current location.) Grand River has really taken shape as a large urban center filled with crime, interesting characters and stories.
That has worked well so far but IN A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES Mitch goes back to the small town where he grew up. I called it Flatville based on the river in my hometown of Greenville, Michigan. To fictionalize them I usually interchange the river with the city and vice versa. That is just my twisted and ironic way of knowing where I am when I write and a bit of playing with words which I enjoy. But enough of that, I’m straying from my point.
In this book, Flatville becomes less like a setting and more like a character as Mitch sees the whole town against him from memories of his youth. In the book I thought I was using the layout of the first town I worked in as a reporter. It had a town square, a colonial courthouse with white pillars, and a pub that I frequently visited. Funny thing is when I went searching for photos of the courthouse, I found a very modern structure. Seems the courthouse I had in my mind doesn’t exist. What I painted was either the hospital in Coldwater or the old courthouse in White Cloud when I first covered trials there. It was torn down in the early 1990s.
As I was writing I thought I channeled my first job setting. Instead it is an amalgamation of several places. It has only been when I went looking for a photo for this blog that I realized how fictional it had become. See if you can help me figure it out.
In A CASE FOR HOMETOWN BLUES my crime sleuth reporter Mitch Malone is going to turn himself in. This is his description as he looks at it from being a wanted man.
“My concern mounted when I could see the courthouse and jail behind the office looming like a monolith. The courthouse oozed Southern charm with three-story, white pillars flanking the front entrance surrounded by lush green grass and flower beds comprising the city’s center square. It was the community’s figurehead, a beacon of welcome as espoused by the Chamber of Commerce unusual for a small community so far north of the Mason-Dixon Line.”
I’ve included photos of the Branch County Community Health Center and the Newaygo County Courthouse. Which was I channeling? It could even be a different building I saw in my imagination. Writing is very freeing and that freedom allows our subconscious to come up with so much more than possible. The same things happen in my books in that the characters take over and things happened that I never imagined making the book much better. Which building do you think I pictured in my brain? I’m not sure. Do you ever think you are describing one thing and it morphs into something completely different?
A Case of Hometown Blues” Synopsis
Thank you, Wendy!