Setting plays such a big part in cozy mystery books, and one of the questions authors get asked a lot is where do you get the inspiration for your small towns?
I cant answer that for everyone, but I can say that sometimes inspiration is made up of real-life places or people mixed with a sold dose of what if.
For instance, Erin and I came up with the town of Ponderosa Pines by blending a bunch of different elements from our real lives, which we embellished into being extremely eco-friendly with a dash of wishful thinking thrown in. We are both advocates of treading lightly on the earth, recycling, and using renewable energy whenever possible. Our interest in ecology helped bring our wonky town to life and populate it with an equally wonky group of people.
So, what’s real about the town?
Most of the town governing structure was lifted from the selectman system in the small town I grew up in. While Ponderosa Pines does conduct town meetings more often than its real counterpart, I grew up watching town members fight bitterly with one another on the meeting floor, then happily share a meal during the break. We added a mayor-type figure, but otherwise, the political structure is very true to life.
Ecology is a huge focus in this mystery series, and one our main characters, EV and Chloe, feel strongly about. Just to get a feel for their size and presence, we drove up to the base of several windmills that now run along miles and miles of ridges in the area where my family one owned a camp. While these windmill systems carry some drawbacks, I feel they are a good step in the right direction.
Many of the alternative building techniques discussed in the series are ones my husband and I researched before making the decision to build a home out of cordwood construction. We will be breaking ground this spring, and I plan to document the build over on my website. Won’t that be fun?
What’s not real?
Well, for one, Ponderosa Pines do not grow in Maine. We know this, and technically, we never said they did. The town wasn’t named for the majestic evergreen, but as a compromise between naming it for the Ponderosa ranch (one of the founders was a Bonanza fan) and Whispering Pines.
Also, as far as I know, no one has ever seen a Sasquatch in my hometown. One fellow insisted he saw a monkey in the woods once, but no one took him seriously. That was not the case in Ponderosa Pines, and Bigfoot played a fun part in Crafting Disorder.
What’s nearly real?
I’m a child of the sixties, and grew up around folks who had lived in communes and were products of the peace and love generation. Those people are NOT fully reflected in our characters, but there might be a few similarities, and my childhood memories definitely influenced the essence of the setting for this cozy mystery series.
Barring it being a hotbed for murder, I would totally move to Ponderosa Pines.
😊 ReGina Welling