I had the great luck to all to briefly meet Lynn McPherson at Bouchercon this year. Please join me in welcoming Lynn to the blog!
I have to start out by saying a big thank you to Sherry Harris for inviting me and including me in the Cozy Wicked Authors site. It is such a privilege to be here.
I am a Canadian who writes about New England. I thought it might be fun to explain the process of how and why I chose this specific location for my books. It was certainly no accident.
The setting where my stories take place is a small, wealthy, town located along the shores of Connecticut, not far from New York City. As the readers likely know, this description could only fit a few actual locations. However, I chose to create a fictional town based on a mishmash of where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, and things I’ve researched. The result is the beautiful, idyllic, and cozy town of Twin Oaks. I wanted to incorporate some of my favourite experiences of New England into my stories so I felt the best way to do this was to create a place where this could happen as opposed to trying to work a way around factual locations in already established communities.
As a lifelong lover of mysteries and storytelling, New England was a very natural place for me to base my own series. One of my earliest influences and inspirations was a TV show I watched weekly growing up. While most of the kids in my class loved Growing Pains or Who’s the Boss, I couldn’t wait for my hero, Jessica Fletcher, best-selling author and super sleuth, to grace the prime-time screen and solve whatever crime she was somehow tangled up in. Not long after Murder, She Wrote ended I discovered Steven King. Between Salem’s Lot and It, I became a lifelong fan. There could be no going back after that. I won’t even venture into my love of Gilmore Girls. Needless to say, New England was it for me.
When I finally got to New England in person, it was phenomenal. I took a road trip with a friend who had gone to school there. We entered through Vermont and right away were introduced to a winter wonderland. The natural beauty of untouched snow on a brilliant, sunny day is easy to appreciate. From there we continued on down to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where I went tobogganing on a classic red wood sled. Another big highlight happened a few days later, when I was lucky enough to get a tour of a picturesque school named Kent, in Kent, Connecticut, since my friend was lucky enough to be an alma mater at the prestigious institution. Walking through the hallways I wondered if Robin Williams was going to walk around the corner at any given moment and convince me to run into a classroom to recite Walt Whitman or Shakespeare.
The rest of the trip was full of other fun activities such as learning how to make s’mores at a rustic inn, feeding carrots to horses on a farm, and watching the Patriots win a big game among a crowd of very enthusiastic fans at a small tavern. I went from having never watched an entire football game to becoming an expert, confident in instructing the players what they should be doing next, shouting excitedly along with my newfound friends at the large screen TV we were all glued to.
Every time I’ve gone to New England since, it has been a pleasure. I’ve yet to come across anything to complain about and I hope to keep it that way. While I know that I am experiencing a place from a rather fantastical point of view—never having to do chores or worry about getting to work on time, it has allowed me to keep the idyllic point of view that I incorporate into my stories.
The Girls Weekend Murder is the first book in The Izzy Walsh Mystery Series. The next one, The Girls Whispered Murder, will be out in the fall of 2018.
Lynn McPherson grew up in various parts of Canada, from the Canadian Rockies to the big city of Toronto. She is a debut author who has channelled her lifelong love of adventure and history into her writing, where she is free to go anywhere, anytime. Having a particular love of New England, possibly stemming from a snowy winter’s night spent at a cozy inn, Lynn knew this is where her mystery series must take place. She is a member of Crime Writers Of Canada, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters In Crime. Her cozy mystery, The Girls’ Weekend Murder, is the first book in The Izzy Walsh Mystery Series.
Readers: If you were going to create a fictional town based on a real one, what town would you choose?
Your book cover is great! New England is a wonderful place to base a book, so much history and variation in culture and geography. Great choice. Much success with the book.
I think for me, it would depend on the story. For a mystery…I would want someplace that I was familiar enough with that I knew the hidden places and could incorporate them into the book while hiding them in plain sight. For a romance, give me the tropics or an exotic location!
Thanks so much. I agree about New England–there is so much to learn and explore!
The litigation adverse part of me says plead the Fifth, or at least do as Lynn has done and claim it is an entirely fictitious town.
Good thinking! We don’t have the first option up in Canada, however, so I play it on the safe side 🙂
Welcome to the blog, Lynn, and congratulations on having your first book out! I have created several fictional towns, including one on Cape Cod, for exactly the reasons you outline.
Thanks so much, Edith. I’ve been following you all for some time now and I love this site–so happy I get to be included!
hmmm…I’m sure my Marketville Mysteries are not at all based on a fictionalized version of Newmarket.
Nice seeing a fellow Canadian here, Lynn!
Hi Judy! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello!
Welcome! I’m so glad you “get” New England–there are plenty of stories here. For my Orchard Mysteries, I blatantly borrowed Granby, Massachusetts for my sort-of fictional Granford, even down to the house where the stories take place. I can’t imagine making up a town–I’d probably forget where the roads go.
Thanks Sheila. I look forward to checking out your Orchard Mysteries!
I love using Bedford, Massachusetts as the inspiration for Ellington, Massachusetts! It’s one of my favorite places we ever lived.
There are so many places in New England to explore–Massachusetts is definitely one I want to visit more!
I opt for a county-Middlesex County, Massachusetts.
I am another Canadian who loves any cozy that is set in New England!
I’m happy to have read your blog today — I’ll be picking up your book ASAP!
And I would love to read anything set in a Stars Hollow-like town. My dream is to find a town Iike that in Canada.
Princess Pinecone, I love your name and agree that Stars Hollow is great. Thanks for your comments!
If I were to create a fictional town from a real one, I think I’d pick the town I live it. It’s a small rural town – less than 3,000 full time residents. However, it’s a tourist town and also the Folk Music Capital of the World. There is a wide variety of visitors from celebrities to hillbillies. Even some of the residents have colorful lives – past and present. It’s an extremely friendly town opening it’s arms up to every sort of people so I can see where the warmth would pull you in and then there’s all sorts of room for mystery and excitement to take place.
It sounds like the perfect place for a mystery. You’ve got a great cast of characters to choose from and just the right size for a cozy.
Although I have lived many places, Rockport, TX is the one I would choose because it is a tourist town and a winter Texan destination so I wouldn’t have to kill off all my friends for a series. On the other hand there is so much scandal and discontent that I would have many bad guys to choose as victims and villains. There are activities year round to set as the focal point. Being on the water provides a beautiful setting although right now much Harvey recovery has left sad gaps but the hurricane and the follow up offer even more opportunities for plots. Although it is bigger than most of the small towns I have lived it, there are communities within the area that offer the small town feel.
I haven’t had the chance to visit Texas yet, but it’s on my list of places I must see in the not-too-distant-future. I’m sorry Harvey took such a toll. That must be difficult for everyone in the community. Rockport sounds beautiful!
I lived in New England for 18 years and loved it. But since then I’ve lived in a very small town in Northwestern PA, and now live in Lancaster, PA. I think I would want a mystery set in a small town in the vicinity I’m in now. It is just so beautiful. I have to laugh at a lot of “small town” mysteries that have far too many businesses for the small population to support, but it is fun to suspend disbelief for a good story.
There’s always a delicate balance when writing a story between the possible, the plausible, and the unbelievable. I agree that PA is lovely.
I can see a fictional town based on many of the small towns I have lived. The story (in my head only) is one like that – now to get it written down. 😉
It took me a while before starting on my writing journey. Good luck!
Obviously, I need to spend more time in New England. 🙂
And I’m another life long Murder, She Wrote fan. I’ve recently realized how much it has affected what I look for in mysteries, like the “ah ha” moment when Jessica has figured out exactly what is going on.
I’m glad to hear from another Jessica fan. I’ve recently rewatched the series and it doesn’t disappoint. She is a gem! I can’t wait for my next visit to New England. The spring is looking good!
If we can have counties, I’ll go with Belknap/Merrimack counties in NH.
Sounds lovely (and perfect for a cozy mystery!)
A fictional town at Jersey shore. It’s where I set me cozy series. Lots of local flavor and character.
I bet the beautiful beach would be a great setting!
Having visited little towns on rivers where my husband does fly fishing, I would want to set a book in a small town in Colorado (like Salida, CO) or Heber Springs, Arkansas. Your book sounds inviting, I really want to visit New England.
Thanks so much! I grew up in western Canada, not far from the Rocky Mountains so I love the idea of Colorado!
Welcome to the Wickeds, Lynn. I love all this New England love coming from Canada. And right back atcha. I am a huge Louise Penny and Alice Munro fan and I worked one week a month in my company’s office in Vancouver for years.
Thank you very much. I’m reading Still Life by Louise Penny right now and loving it. Vancouver is a great city, too. A nice place to be for sure (just remember your rain coat!)
It would be a town based on Virginia Beach, the place I love and hope to call home someday soon.
I hope your dreams come true. I’d love to read a mystery series set there. It’s a great spot.
My fictional town is Gansett Cove, based on the town of Narragansett,at the southernmost tip of Rhode Island. A summer landing spot for many, sometimes I have to remind myself that I am in Rhode Island, not Long Island. Also of Canadian descent, near Montreal, it’s comical to hear the different pronunciations of my name in a predominately Irish community. Cannot wait to read your series.
Sounds gorgeous! Thanks so much for writing in. It made me giggle when I looked at your name and tried to guess the different ways the spelling could be interpreted–it’s so natural for us Canadians to automatically think of the French way. When I look at the Irish word for cheers–Slainte–yup, it’s certainly not pronounced the way I would naturally think to say it!
Comments are closed.