Monday, May 12, 2008

My Town Monday: Local Books

Today is supposed to be a special My Town Monday where participants read a book set in their town and talk about it. I liked the idea, and I'm going to read all about where the other My Town Monday posters live and the books written there. (You should to-- go see Travis Erwin for links.)

However I didn't find any books set in Livingston County, Michigan. There are several local history books, which I would give my left arm to actually own... the historical societies printed them but don't have them anymore.

Elmore Leonard lives in Whitmore Lake last I knew. His mystery stories were set in Detroit, apparently since he grew up there.

Michael Moore hails from Flint. I'm told that one of my aunts used to work for him delivering the first paper he printed.

Steve Hamilton wrote the Alex McKnigt series set in the Upper Peninsula. And I'm sure there are other Michigan-based stories.

But nothing seems to be set in Livingston County. Not yet, at least.

For now, the only stories I know of set in Livingston County are my own. "Assortment of Bullies," "Failing Mark," & "Pleasure Business" (see links-->) are clearly set in Livingston County. There are others that, well, as the author, I know they're Livingston County stories, but there's nothing in the text to convey that.

Perhaps it's because there's nothing particularly distinctive or noteworthy about this area. It's your pretty average place. It does have a little itty-bitty hamlet called "Hell" (yep, Hell, Michigan is in Livingston County... I'll have a post on that some day soon!)

I think the average-ness is what makes it a perfect setting. This is "Anytown, USA." It's also the setting I use in my Bo Fexler novel. In my novel, I refer to the local places (and the local weather trend of winter returning univited for an encore in March.) It could be any small city, any county that suffers from lopsided, speedy growth. You may not be able to find it on the map of Michigan unless you know where to look, but at the same time, it could just as well be any other place.

Do other readers like the idea of a story set anywhere? Or do you prefer traveling to some other city, with recognizable landmarks?

As a reader, I'm a little of both. As a writer, I write what I know. And I know Livingston County.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Not too bad being the premiere Livingston County author.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Clair,

I just enjoyed "Assortment of Bullies." Thanks for having the links on your site.


Barrie said... are the first Livingston writer!

As a writer, I'm thinking fictional settings are starting to look good. I wouldn't have to be so careful with details. ;)

p.s. I love Elmore Leonard

Travis Erwin said...

I usually use fictional town names becasue then i can manipulate them to be exactly what I need but I try to convey the surrounding area honestly.

Josephine Damian said...

I read to go places and times I'll never get to visit otherwise, the more far off and exotic the better. There are few things that bore me more than FL based mysteries.

It's the tourists who read those books while here on vacation, not the locals. At least not this local.