Writing About Small Towns

I've touched on this subject before. What can you do when you have a series (or two) that are set in a small town so that it doesn't become like Cabot Cove? Those who watched Murder She Wrote joked about the fact that so many died that perhaps Jessica might be the killer. It didn't get much better when she traveled, no matter where she went someone died.

In my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, even though the beach town is small it is on the California coast between two larger cities, Ventura and Santa Barbara. There is direct access to the town from the 101 freeway. This makes it much easier for bad guys to come in from somewhere else--though the town itself has it's share of not so wonderful inhabitants. Though I write about a police department and crime, my books border on being cozies as the focus is as much on the families of the police officers as it is on them. And as I said yesterday, I don't use bad words; I also shut the bedroom door.

It's a different story in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series--oh, I still don't use bad words and keep the bedroom door shut, but the small mountain community is based on a real town--the one I live in. I've changed the location a bit by moving it higher into the mountains, but much of locale resembles where I live. The entire time I've lived here there have been only two murders and one high-profile one before we moved here. There are two deaths that I think could possibly have been murders, but were not investigated as such. I'm using that right now in the book I'm working on. Fortunately, the mountain area is large so I can have different locations for the crime Tempe investigates, including the nearby Indian reservation. Yes, it's based on one near me, but I've changed the name and the name of the tribe. Because the area is so big, it gives me so leeway as to where and how people are murdered.

In my latest, Invisible Path, much of the action takes place on the reservation and in the high country.

Angel Lost, available in March, takes place in Rocky Bluff, on the beach, in the main part of town, in the older residential area, and in the orange groves. I had a great time writing this book, I hope people enjoy it.

Books by Marilyn


You could always bring in a big city developer, an outsider with all the Board of Supervisor-displaced homeowners-big money drama, such as when Trump toyed with the idea of buying a golf course in Fresno and wanted lots of free concessions from the local government.
James Garcia Jr said…
Hello, Marilyn. That "Murder: She Wrote" comment was hilarious. Much like the Newhart finale where Bob wakes up with Suzanne Pleshette, his wife from the first tv series, wouldn't it have been great to have the audience see that Jessica was indeed actually a terrible serial killer in their finale??
Just wanted to say hello,

Hi, James, it would have been a shock to see Jessica was actually a serial killer, but the protests would've been mighty.
Monti said…
Good idea to mention the setting of your new book. Nice.


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