I write clean contemporary small town and rural fiction. But I don’t necessarily write with a list of specific events or markers in mind that small town fiction, and especially southern small town fiction, might normally demand.
Instead, my writing flows from deep and life-long memories of places I’ve lived and people whose paths have crossed mine. My writing contains bits about places I’ve lived in my real life and in my vicarious life. Sometimes it’s a tiny speck of one place and a pail-full from another. I put those thoughts and memories together to form a story in a way that comes naturally to me.
Many of those memories and bits of vicarious life formed in a real area in north Alabama. They come together publicly in a mostly fictitious place called Morgan Crossroads, Alabama. I say mostly fictitious because as I write the Morgan Crossroads series, Morgan Crossroads and Whipper County are real in my mind and hopefully they become real to those read the books.
In case you wonder where Whipper County, Alabama is, it exists only in the pages of my stories. But if I were forced to stick a pin in it on a map, I’d aim for some place north of Highway 72, somewhere between Gurley and Scottsboro, Alabama. If you were a faculty member at The University of Alabama in Huntsville and enjoyed hanging out at First Monday in Scottsboro, either would be a reasonable commute.
The people whose lives are on display in my stories are people I enjoy knowing, if only in a written world. Some are very well educated. Some aren’t. Some lived affluent lives prior to moving to Morgan Crossroads. Others get by doing odd jobs and eat from their gardens and livestock. Some are somewhat private. At least one is downright nosy, although she would refer to her nosiness as her simply performing proper research in her work as a reporter. You’d have to be your own judge of that.
I’ve read comments online that were written by readers of other authors’ work. Referring to the small town setting in one author’s stories, one person seemed to think the town was very unrealistic because there were only one or two places where one could dine out.
In comments about yet another author’s small town and rural stories, a reader voiced her opinion that the story was unbelievable. She said something like, “Nobody goes swimming in the creek anymore. We have pools now.”
In Morgan Crossroads, Alabama both of those scenarios are realistic. There really are just two dining establishments, assuming picking up a sourdough biscuit and sausage at Brown’s General Store doesn’t count. Lucy’s Cafe is the community’s go-to place for family dining. The Dairy Bar might be more suited if your taste swings toward soft-serve ice cream cones or hotdogs and onion rings.
And yes, there is a swimming hole further up in the valley north of Morgan Crossroads. It’s been there for at least fifty years that I know of. Just ask Henry Brown or Ollie Smith.
Real small town and rural life can be contemporary yet colored by fifty years or more of uniquely quiet life among the best friends one could ever hope for.
If that sounds like the place you’d like to retire or to just get away from the much too hurried life that most cities offer, you’d be welcome there. I’m sure of it.
There’d be no need to worry about Edgar Garrison’s BMW, but you might want to watch out for Johnny Mack Durant’s tractor and hay wagon. I understand he wiped out Marcella’s prized Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham several years ago.