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Guest blogger: Juliet Madison

20 July 2014

Juliet MadisonThe appeal of small-town settings

I like to read and write books set both in small towns and in urban environments, but small towns hold a certain allure for me. They have a cosy, magical quality, and I find them intriguing. When I came up with the idea for a small-town series of books, I knew I wanted to base it on the town I had just moved to, on the south coast of NSW. I was getting used to my new home and discovering all the quirks and beauty the town had to offer, and tried my best to translate that to the page. The first book I set here was The January Wish, which led to the decision to create a monthly-themed set of books linked by the same setting, and the Tarrin’s Bay series was born. I wrote February or Forever after that, and am now writing Miracle in March, which is due for release in March 2015.

The thing I like about using the same setting is that there are so many story possibilities with the variety of interesting characters from a small town, and each book is a chance to not only create something new but build on what was created in previous books. The setting becomes a character itself in a way, with its own personality and set of quirks.

What I think is appealing about small-town settings is the close-knit community. If someone new comes to town, people notice. If something changes, people notice. If there’s a scandal, people know about it. There are plenty of secrets but also plenty of gossip. And if there’s a disaster, people rally around to help the community. I also think small towns have a slightly slower pace of life, which often appeals to people who are overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of city life and want to escape to a story that puts a strong emphasis on the natural environment and on the people that make the town a home. There’s a sense of intimacy and belonging within small towns that is enticing, and they seem to allow more personal issues to be exposed without the buffer of relative anonymity in a busy city, making for interesting character-driven stories.

Here’s an excerpt from The January Wish that helps to give a subtle sense of the small town:

TBseriesThe sun warmed her skin as she walked out of Miracle Park, past the historic terrace shops with their homewares, boutique clothing and unique gifts, and up the road towards her house. The afternoon ocean breeze ran like fingers through her hair as Sylvia thought about her wish. Eighteen years had passed since the day that changed her life forever, the memory playing on her mind more and more lately. She lived a satisfying life, but a part of her, deep inside, needed to fill the void that sat there.

What do you like about small town settings? I’d love to hear about your favourite small town books and series, leave a comment if you’d like to share them.

You can read more about the Tarrin’s Bay series here.

You can find Juliet online at: website | blog | Facebook | Twitter

  1. Malvina permalink
    22 July 2014 8:19 am

    I love small town settings, enjoy the friendships and the pace away from the big cities. Not that there isn’t a place for that, too, but sometimes reading the small town romance makes you feel like you’ve gone on holidays!

  2. 21 July 2014 2:50 am

    I just started a small town novel, but its set in the first century. Thanks for the points and possibilities to think about including.


  3. 20 July 2014 10:30 pm

    Dubbing you a queen in the dmall-town setting would not be an exaggeration. Congratulations on your success. You are an inspiration!

  4. 20 July 2014 5:00 pm

    Its a good idea to use where you are living as a setting. Much easier to check facts, names of streets, shops, layouts of things. You have a network of people and stories there. Keep writing!

    • 20 July 2014 7:06 pm

      Thanks Margaret. Definitely easier, I sometimes wonder if people know I’m eavesdropping and people-watching to get ideas for characters and stories! 😉

  5. 20 July 2014 3:14 pm

    Hi Juliet found you on the ARRA blog, and looking forward to reading your stories.

  6. 20 July 2014 12:58 pm

    Reblogged this on JULIET MADISON and commented:
    I’ve got an article up on the ARRA blog today about small town settings in books…

  7. 20 July 2014 12:35 pm

    Great blog, Juliet. I love small towns settings. Good luck with The January Wish and February or Forever!

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