Monday, August 20, 2012

The Town: What's fiction and What's Not

 Writing a book set in a "real" small town is a bit of a challenge.

It's why many authors choose to create fictional towns. They can arrange the town however fits their books best, and don't have to worry about silly little things such as geographical accuracy and other location specific items.

But I always wanted to write a book set in the small Illinois town of Sandwich because it was where I was born and lived until I was 5. I went back there frequently in the years that followed because my grandparents and many of my relatives still lived there.

I haven't been back to Sandwich in more years than I care to admit. So much of how I wrote Sandwich was based on my own childhood recollection and information I got from a wonderful Aunt who still lives there, as well as good ol' Google.

So what things in the book ARE real?

Well, there really is a Yum-Yum shoppe. It's in a new location now from when I was a kid, but it is one of those places when we DO visit, that we make sure we stop in! Although... I DID realize (too late) that I made a wee bit of an author no-no and spelled it "shop" instead of the correct spelling of "shoppe." *sigh* Slapping my own hand now... Hoping local Sandwichians (?) will forgive me that!

Sandwich Opera House
And Art's Supermarket is a real place in downtown Sandwich where we always went grocery shopping when we lived there.

I took a little liberty in including A&J Automotive, as it is no longer there. But it is a big memory of mine, as my uncle used to own it, and I remember going down there as a kid and seeing my Grandpa and Uncle and Dad all down there.

Gene's really is a place to eat in Sandwich.

And the Sandwich Fair is a REALLY big deal to the town. it is the longest continuous running county fair in the state, and one of the largest antique fairs in the US. I took a little liberty there, as well, with the timeline. You see, the Sandwich fair is ALWAYS the week of Labor Day, every single year. But the fair begins on Wednesday after Labor Day... I took a bit of literary liberties and had it start a few days early, so it could be open on Labor Day. (So if you're in the area over Labor Day weekend.... don't try to go to the fair! You'll be disappointed to find it closed! Wait a few days though.. you'll be in for a treat!)

The Lake Holiday Independence Day Fest is very much real. I had much fun crafting their celebration and trying to include as many of the traditions as possible. A BIG thanks to owner Sharon Shepard for helping me with the details. I've never attended personally, though, so any errors are mine!

ALL my characters are fictional. I was a bit nervous... what if I named a villain the same name as someone in town and they think I'm talking about them????? But the truth is, I haven't been back to Sandwich in a LONG time, so if that happens, well, it was totally by chance and not intentional in the least!


There were quite a few fun things in Sandwich and memories that I wasn't able to include, and that made me a bit sad. Things like the train shaped diner on the main road going through town, the little Nazarene church that I attended growing up, the Sandwich Opera House, and the little old bakery that is no longer there but sold the HANDS DOWN best Chocolate Covered Bismark (custard filled) Donuts.

And of course, there are the wonderful memories from my Grandma and Grandpa's house, right down the road from the Fairgrounds on Center Street. Rook parties and sliding down the ridiculously steep stairs (sore bum and all) and cinnamon rolls and reading Grandma's collection of Christian novels... Lots and lots of good memories!

Discussion: Walk down memory lane with me! What is one of your favorite memories from growing up?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

My local library has your book on order, and placed a hold on it. I can't wait to read it!!

Krista Phillips said...

Yeah!!!! How fun! Can't wait for you to be ABLE to read it! :-)

Anonymous said...

Me too!

RainbowWriter said...

even though I don't live in the town when I was younger when we went on vacation we would always stop by osceola cheese, Great place, I always loved getting a toothpick and getting to try all the different types of cheese. Haven't been back in quite a while though.

Jodie said...

This is fun reading about Sandwich! We recently bought my grandmother's house, where I practically grew up. So many memories! Saturday evening, I just stood at the kitchen sink, looking out the window at the yard and thinking how the light looks the same as it did when I was a kid, and I could almost see my grandmother standing beside me washing dishes and my grandfather in the yard at his grill... So wonderful.

erika2011 said...

I don't have a favorite place in my town but we do have many cool places that everyone knows about. There's Tower Hill which is the well known sledding hill that has since been closed down because too many people have gotten hurt, a few paralyzed. Then there's Ralston's which has since been named Patriot Party Mart. I particularly love how no matter how old (or young) someone is they know quite a few of the teachers and have their best (or worst) memory of said teacher.

Side topic: I'm glad to know that you were raised in a Nazarene church. That's where I've been since I was 10 days old and never had the thought to look up how many Nazarene churches there are in my state (Michigan) let alone the country.

Side side topic: glad to read all your posts and see how well Annabelle is doing. I am starting college next week and will be going to school for my RN to specialize in NICU nursing. Have a good day and enjoy all the moments you get to enjoy with Annabelle. Never take a moment for granted!!!!!!

Jessica said...

My favorite memory as a kid is hanging out in our town. There are a lot of shops there. I would have loved to grow up in a small town.

Krista Phillips said...

Ohhhhhhh, you had me at CHEESE! YUM!

Krista Phillips said...

HOW FUN!!!!! I LOVED my grandparents house!!! How cool would it to live in such a memory!!

Krista Phillips said...

A fellow Nazarene! You know, JESUS was a Nazarene, so we're in good company *grin* I grew up in the Nazarene church too, but have gone to quite a few different types of churches in my life depending on where we lived. Am back to being a good ol' Nazzy though:-)

YEAH for nursing school! We LOVE LOVE LOVE and appreciate our nurses SO very much!!

Krista Phillips said...

Ahhh, hanging out in town! Something we can't do as much lately, stupid crime!

Tammi T. said...

Most of my memories are of living in a community called Pinch-Quick (just think of the possibilities for book titles with that one)! :P There are a few memories like going to the Pizza Shack (which isn't there anymore) at the end of our road, walking to the local IGA where my mom worked when I was in my late teens. I also enjoyed just walking the neighborhood, visiting my friends houses and the small park near the local grade school.

I can't wait to read your book. I just got an email from Amazon today that said my order was going to ship sooner than first estimated. The first estimate was mid-October, now I should have it by the end of this month! I'll have to re-read this post before reading it so I can know what is "real" and what isn't.

Hey - did I mention that I'm so excited to read it? Hee, hee :)