Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Small Town Vibe

In 30 years of publishing, I've experimented with different styles and varieties of novels. I enjoyed one teen adventure novel and a Young Adult mystery with a paranormal element, as well as other stories for different audiences. Writing them was a fun diversion, but I've found my home in sweet romances set in America's small towns.

What's the charm of the small town? Ask the faithful followers of the Andy Griffith Show or Northern Exposure. We all came to know and love the quirky folk who peopled Mayberry, North Carolina or Cicely, Alaska. The homey, interesting, or romantic plots that carried the series were always supplemented by the eccentric behaviors of poor drunken Otis or paranoid Adam, the antics of Barney Fife, or the flat delivery of Marilyn Whirlwind. We happily returned week after week to these alternate hometowns where we knew everyone and willingly rode along on whatever strange story arc dominated the set that episode. 

Do real-life small towns have the same charm? I suppose it depends on the small town. Over the years, I've lived in a few. During five formative years in my teens, I lived in a town of about 600 poised on the edge of the Navajo Nation. Then, for fourteen months in 2017-18, I lived in a town of about 5,000 in the heart of Dinetah (Navajoland). Those two experiences gave me the background for the Rainbow Rock Romances, a series set in the fictional town of Rainbow Rock, Arizona, poised in the striped hills of the Painted Desert. 

For the past four decades, I've lived in the Sacramento River Valley in California, right at the edge of the foothills that lead into the Sierra Nevada mountains. Friends were among those burned out of Paradise during the calamitous fires there two years ago, and I used the burned-outcommunities as the basis for creating Destiny, California, the home of the Seasons of Destiny series. 

Farther up the state highway from fictional Destiny lies the equally fictional town of Bedford Falls, California, the setting for my Christmas novel which is set to appear in late October. I have other plans for both Destiny and Bedford Falls and look forward to setting more books in both places.

For me, the small town vibe is the ideal backdrop for a sweet romance and the characters that people the towns are, for the most part, people I enjoy knowing when they hang out with me in my office. I love the fact that readers seem to be enjoying them too. 

Susan Aylworth is the author of 20 novels. Her newest series, "Seasons of Destiny," explores romance in every season of the year in the small, former Gold Rush town of Destiny, California, nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills.  Paris in the Springtime, Sunny's Summer,  Amber in Autumn, and Winter Skye are all available now in e-book and paperback. She is releasing new editions of her beloved Rainbow Rock Romances and beginning a  "Daughters of Destiny" series featuring five sisters-cousins who sing together, complete with plenty of interesting song lyrics. Look for them in the coming months along with a Christmas novella coming in October, set in Bedford Falls, California. 

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