The amazing author of CHAMPAGNE AND LEMON DROPS, @JeanOram is our special guest today on Sharing Our Voices. Her book kept me awake until the wee hours of the morning because I simply couldn't stop reading until I reached the end.
Please welcome her as she shares what inspired the wonderful town of Blueberry Springs.
Thanks for having me on the blog, Angie. You had asked, "The environment and culture of Blueberry Springs was so rich in detail that it felt real. What was your inspiration for this town?"
The inspiration for Blueberry Springs, the setting for my romance Champagne and Lemon Drops (book one in the Blueberry Springs series), is an accumulation of experiences from small town Alberta, Canada--even though I am very careful not to say in the book whether the town is in the United States or Canada.
Some of the happenings in Blueberry Springs are things I have plucked from my own life. I grew up in a hamlet of a hundred people in Alberta, Canada. I knew everyone and they knew me. That old saying where it takes a community to raise a child? That's how I grew up. We gaggle of girls ate at whomever's house were playing at. Bathed at whomever's house. We were a pack of 'ragamuffins' that stuck together and were offered many parenting choices in any given day!
Like in the book, the nearest big city was called The City. Going to Town was the next town over which had a gas station and grocery store. And like in Champagne and Lemon Drops, the parts man really did take ordered parts by phone and place them in your vehicle when he saw it on Main Street--he'd simply charge it to your account. (Although I don't think anyone ever blew up at him like one of the heroes, Nash, did in the book!)
City people, like Nash, were suspect and warranted caution which was a great ounce of conflict in Champagne and Lemon Drops. In real life, my parents have lived in their hamlet for over forty years now, but in all that time, they have been 'the new people.' They were hippies (they aren't any longer). Easterners. City folk. They aren't related to everyone and don't have generations of history in that area. But they shared a lot of the same values as our community and the community was always there to help out.
Growing up in this area I saw both worlds. I saw the connection and deep bond that Beth (the heroine) wanted in Blueberry Springs as well as that deep confusion and lack of understanding for the social nuances that city man Nash experienced.
In a small town, everyone knows everyone as well as their most personal business. And if they don't know it, they make it up. Small town folks aren't afraid to snoop, ask, or interfere. They mean well, but sometimes it is difficult. In a lot of ways, I tried to make Blueberry Springs a character in the story. The town was both a source of conflict for my characters as well as a source of resolution. Blueberry Springs, however, is unlike most small towns in that its identity was always in limbo. The town is set in the mountains and is a bit isolated. There are meadows which have been farmed and ranched. Natural resources that have been mined and now tourism is starting. But, like any small town, it's a town on the cusp of becoming nothing. The threat of disappearance is very real.
Beth, like anyone from a small town, has to make a choice. To stay or to go. To leave home and become a nobody in a big city, or to remain in a small town and possibly be suffocated. I chose to leave. I won't tell you what Beth chooses. And Mandy, who shows up in book one, is the main character for book two and will also have to deal with this issue. But her question is: Can she be a big fish in a small pond (town)? (You can sign up for free book updates on my website: http://www.jeanoram.com/signup )
For those interested in seeing Blueberry Springs in all its interfering, supportive glory it is currently free in all ebook formats (read it on your ereader, tablet, phone, or computer!):
One woman. Two men. One meddling small town. Raised by her older sister in the small town of Blueberry Springs, all Beth Wilkinson wants is to create a family so big she’ll never be alone. Things are going great until her accountant fiancé, Oz, throws their life in the air, sending her on a journey of discovery paved with choices--including whether to return to her old life.
Chick Lit Author With SNAP!
Read Book 1 in the Blueberry Springs Series is now FREE! Champagne and Lemon Drops ~ All formats on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble as well as on Amazon.com.