One Writer’s Journey: Creating a Fiction Town

Main Street, Newmarket, Ontario

When I started writing Skeletons in the Attic, I wanted to create a fictional town that readers could believe in. I also wanted my protagonist, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable, to be a fish out of water. I decided to make Callie a single woman born and raised in the city—Toronto, Canada, in her case—who’s forced to move to the town of Marketville.

Callie describes Marketville as “a commuter community about an hour north of Toronto, the sort of town where families with two kids, a collie, and a cat moved to looking for a bigger house, a better school, and soccer fields. It didn’t sound much like her…” and while she’s not keen to move there, she doesn’t have a lot of choice.

As a former city girl, also born and raised in Toronto, I can remember feeling much the same way about the town of Newmarket, which is also a commuter community about an hour north of Toronto. Nevertheless, my husband, Mike, and I bought our first house there in the late 1980s (houses in Toronto being outside of our financial means). Newmarket and the surrounding area have seen considerable development since then, but I can still remember my mom saying, “They have houses that far north?”

The plaque dedicated to Samuel Lount, located outside the Holland Landing Community Centre. Lount’s Landing is a much fictionalized version of Holland Landing.

Mike and I moved again in 1990 to the neighboring—and even smaller—community of Holland Landing, which served as partial inspiration for Lount’s Landing in my novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose. Lount’s Landing’s Main Street, however, was inspired by Newmarket’s Main Street. That’s the great thing about being a writer and fictionalizing a setting. You can pull your favorite things from one place and put it in another! In the case of Marketville and Lount’s Landing, I’ve also taken the liberty of making them much more “small town” than they actually are.

*This entry is an abbreviated version of my Jan. 14th post on the Mystery Thriller Week website and serves as an introduction to a terrific initiative for authors and readers. For more information, visit About Mystery Thriller Week. The countdown is on!

3 responses to “One Writer’s Journey: Creating a Fiction Town

  1. Kristina Stanley

    Thanks Judy.

  2. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks for stopping by Kristina. I love your Stone Mountain setting. It seems very believable, but it is nice to have that flexibility!

  3. Kristina Stanley

    I write about a fictional town too. It’s loosely based on a really place, but it gave me the flexibility to design the town so if fit the story and not the other way around.

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