Before getting into a story about reality vs. fiction, I have an offer to make. If you leave a comment, I’ll randomly select two to receive “gifted” copies of the audio version of A Well-Kept Family Secret. The blog will be up for a week and the winners will be announced on Monday, October 20th. Take a chance. Leave a comment.
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Many times I’ve heard authors say if you find a current event that has something to do with one of your books, make the most of it. Well, the other night my daughter called and read me a headline she’d found on the Internet.
“Hiker Discovers an Abandoned Town Inside Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains National Park.” (Huffington Post) (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/roadtrippers/hiker-discovers-an-abando_b_5927164.html)
I immediately thought of Old Murders Never Die where Sandi and Pete discover a fictional ghost town in the mountains of Arizona, and where they become stranded. My next move was to read the article. There were a number of interesting similarities, and some definite differences.
Jordan Liles discovered Elkmont in May of 2013, a town built around 1912, in the Great Smoky Mountains. Wolf Creek, the fictional town in my story, is considerably older, but there were those similarities staring me in the face. By the way, the book was released in July of 2013.
There’s a river by Elkmont. Wolf Creek had a large creek nearby. The real town was located in the woods. The fictional town was located in the woods. The real town had a hotel, and the fictional town had a saloon/hotel. Many of the pictures Mr. Liles shared reminded me of my idea of Wolf Creek, including some houses that were overgrown with foliage.
One of the differences? Although the real town had buildings still standing, they weren’t in safe condition. I can understand that, being located in Tennessee with more moisture and humidity. The fictional town was located in Arizona where the weather is arid and dry. In the book, most of the buildings were relatively safe to explore.
Another difference is that Elkmont had electricity. Wolf Creek didn’t because it was a much older town, abandoned shortly after 1880.
If this makes you curious about Elkmont, check out the video Mr. Liles made as he walked through the town. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfaTpunhJRs) It’s quite interesting. Be sure to take a look at his website, too, at http://www.jordanliles.com/blog/.
Along these lines, I was contacted by a woman who’s been a steward for ghost towns for a long time. She said she was enjoying the story partly because the way I described Wolf Creek would be what you might actually find in a deserted town, with one notable exception. A real town would have been a lot dirtier. Well, I didn’t want Sandi to spend the entire story cleaning, so I downplayed the dirt and limited her to cleaning one house – the place where they would stay while stranded.
The background on the cover of Old Murders Never Die is actually Bodie, California. The house featured on the middle of the cover is an abandoned house found in Nevada. It has no special significance, except that it’s the basis for the Wolf Creek adventure. Hmm. So I guess it really does have significance.
Many people don’t realize how much unexplored land is still left in America. There are, I’m sure, other towns waiting to be discovered.
Take a hike sometime in an area where there’s not generally a lot of foot traffic. You never know what you might find. Another Wolf Creek, only the real deal, or maybe another Elkmont area?
Thank you Jordan Liles for sharing your story.
Until next time, check out some historic homes and sites in your area. You might find some fun exploring ahead of you.
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