Like a dream come true, Al & I recently moved north to a small town an hour or so from Detroit. Like so many small towns all over the country, downtown retailers struggle to survive, while big box stores and chain restaurants pop up just a jump on the freeway away. Who doesn’t love Target and Panera?
My new town was incorporated in 1827. We have historic public buildings, even pretty Victorian houses, that have survived all these years. Many small farms and apple orchards remain intact.
Things could go either way for my new town: we could become the kind of community with a thriving downtown like Royal Oak or Rochester, or we could stand by helplessly as shop after shop closes, historic building after historic building gets boarded up or torn down. That almost happened here many years ago to our Octagon House, but the community stepped in to save it.
I have always loved reading novels set in small towns, where people have deep community roots and take pride in their history. I’ve never lived in a small town, however, until now. The downtown area is currently getting a little make-over, adding a center turning lane to the two lane road. When all that is finished, I plan to spend time and money in my little downtown and hope it survives.
But life is not a romance novel and not every small town story has a happy ending. Which makes it even more important for me to keep my Blue Heaven characters and their small town intact. Working on the second and third novels in this new series makes me feel, however illogically, that in some way, I’m keeping the small town spirit alive.