Friday, March 30, 2018
The Bartered Body.
Equally with real estate, the phrase can be applied to story. Every story needs a location in which to take place and, in some instances, it can be is as important as characters or plot.
One can choose an actual place as setting for a story, thought the writer runs the risk of being called out for errors by others more familiar with the location. A reader can be jarred out of a story should your character drive the wrong way on a one-way street or dine at a restaurant not on the block where you place it.
I've written stories set in actual locations and--so far--have not had the unpleasant experience of being challenged on my descriptions of the setting.
But I think it's much more fun and challenging to create your own little slice of the world.
I created the town of Arahpot in Jordan County (both are fictional) and set them down in my neck of Pennsylvania as the location for the novels in the Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman series. Some readers in my region may recognize aspects of the place. Yet they won't find the town or county on any maps.
Actually, I'd created Arahpot for an earlier book (Watch The Hour). The town happened to have a lawman named Tilghman, so it was convenient to borrow the place and have Syl be that man's son.
Arahpot sits on an elevated terrace between two forks of a creek of the same name. It's a rural community, the economy equally dependent on agricultural and coal mining. I've become quite familiar with the place as I name its streets, create its business places and the home of the principal characters. Occasionally my characters will journey to Shannon, the county seat, or Masonville, a neighboring village (both as fictional as Arahpot).
There are now three novels in the series: Fallen From Grace, Sooner Than Gold and The Bartered Body.
Here's a blurb for The Bartered Body: Why would thieves steal the body of a dead woman?
That’s the most challenging question yet to be faced by Sylvester Tilghman, the third of his family to serve as sheriff of Arahpot, Jordan County, Pennsylvania, in the waning days of the 19th century.
And it’s not just any body but that of Mrs. Arbuckle, Nathan Zimmerman’s late mother-in-law. Zimmerman is burgess of Arahpot and Tilghman’s boss, which puts more than a little pressure on the sheriff to solve the crime in a hurry.
Syl’s investigation is complicated by the arrival in town of a former flame who threatens his relationship with his sweetheart Lydia Longlow; clashes with his old enemy, former burgess McLean Ruppenthal; a string of armed robberies, and a record snowstorm that shuts down train traffic, cuts off telegraph service and freezes cattle in the fields.
It will take all of Syl’s skills and the help of his deputy and friends to untangle the various threads and bring the criminals to justice.