Have you ever wondered why authors choose one particular setting over another? Is it convenience? A love—or loathing—for an area? A location that perfectly fits the characters and theme of their novel?
I suppose it’s all of those, for me, at least. Though love for an area tends to rise above other reasons, which is why it’s almost ironic my debut novel is set in the Midwest.
You see, I’m a Midwest transplant. I was born and raised in northern Washington with its tree-covered mountains, tulip fields, and easy access to the beach. From there, I spent a short period in the small Midwestern railroad town of North Platte, Nebraska. It was here my husband and I bought our first house, went to our first Cattle Baron’s Ball, and had our precious little princess.
And yet, despite all those wonderful firsts, I was NOT a fan of the Midwest. It was too cold. Or too hot. And had way too many tornadoes.
A few more moves over the years—from California to Texas to Louisiana then back to the Midwest—brought an older, wiser, and simple Jennifer Slattery to Nebraska. One who receives great pleasure from each of the four seasons and has come to appreciate the neighborly feel so characteristic of this area.
As a fairly recent transplant but one enjoying every fallen autumn leaf and newly budded springtime flower, I decided to set a novel in a neighborhood, though fictional, that reminded me of one my husband and I visited often.
It’s called the Brookside neighborhood, and it’s located just south of the Plaza in the Kansas City. The neighborhood itself is small, but a cluster of houses with old growth trees and screened in porches. The grocery store’s in walking distances, as is the quaint yet bustling coffee shop known as the Roasterie. My husband and I spent many mornings at this coffee shop. It’s funny, really. We’d drive a good thirty minutes, past Scooters and Starbucks and all the other wonderful coffee houses en route, to purchase a latte.
We’d sip it slowly, me working on my computer and him catching up on all the latest sports articles. Then we’d spend the next couple of hours, walking hand-in-hand, window shopping.
There was a candle shop that smelled of candy and cinnamon. A place to get your shoes fixed that reminded me of the 1950s, not that I’ve lived in that era, but you know, there’s TV. A restaurant that was as small as it was delicious—maybe a dozen or so stores. Just enough.
This was the neighborhood I based Ainsley’s off of—one where everyone knew and watched out for one another and where the older residents spent their summer evenings rocking on their front porch. Because that was something I wanted to come out strongly in the novel—the sense of community I’ve come to love most about the Midwest.
Beyond I Do:
Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more. Ainsley Meadow’s encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks a passion that threatens her engagement. Will seeing beyond the present unite her and her fiancé or tear them apart? Raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignites a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.
Jennifer Slattery writes Missional Romance for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available for preorder at a 26% off discount. You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-I-Do-Jennifer-Slattery/dp/1596694173/
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.