Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Snohomish

main street

Most of my Home Crafting Mysteries are set in the small town of Cadyville, Washington. The exception is Something Borrowed, Something Bleu where Sophie Mae returns to her Colorado home town of Spring Creek. Cadyville is a fictionalized version of the real town of Snohomish, located some thirty miles north of Seattle. It's typical of cozy mysteries to be set in small towns – it limits the number of characters and, even better, the real sense of community in smaller towns is so much more believable than trying to set a cozy in the middle of New York City or L.A. (This is when you jump in to tell me how wrong I am about that.)

I lived near Snohomish when I began writing the first book in the series, Lye in Wait. It had a rich history as a logging town and commercial center due to it’s proximity to the Snohomish River. The library has copies of the Snohomish Eye from its inception (it’s now called the Tribune), which provided plenty of fodder for the imagination. In fact, an article about a food preservation contest at the high school in the 1920s inspired the plot for Heaven Preserve Us.

Though I didn’t live within the city limits, the police chief was kind enough to authorize a ride along with one of his patrol officers. During that evening I asked plenty of questions and took lots of notes as we responded to calls. A car was stolen out of the hardware store parking lot, a domestic dispute involved a wife hitting her husband, a woman reported child abuse some ten years after the fact, and a man flashed a teenager and then escaped on one of those strange little pocket bikes that were all the rage for a while.

Almost all the calls were odd in some way, and I was struck by the officer’s comment that 80% of the people the police department interacted with were folks they had dealt with before. In fact, the woman whose car was stolen was the only “new customer” of the shift. 

Talk about limited characters! But definitely good inspiration for Cadyville, and for Sophie Mae’s love interest, Detective Barr Ambrose.

5 comments:

  1. Waving hello from Snohomish! Let me know when you'll be back and we can have lunch at Fred's.

    Barb (Barbooch)

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  2. Our family spent 11 years in Enumclaw. Traveled to Snohomish a couple of times. Beautiful country...and a great setting for a story.
    What a fun way to do research as well.

    Maybe I'll write myself back there sometime.

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  3. Yes... but I'm thinking a murder set during the GroundFrog Day celebration would be awesome!(Yes we really do have one people! http://www.snohomishtimes.com/snohomishNEWS.cfm?inc=story&newsID=967) :D -- Thanks Cricket for putting your characters in such a fun place, and bringing it alive for everyone.

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  4. When I read your comment about small towns offering limited characters, I gave it some thought. In large cities, people tend to keep to themselves or socialize with a work group or immediate family. In a sense, each group becomes its own small community.
    But ... I don't think a Cozy would work in a big-city setting because it would lack that "quaint" characteristic required of a Cozy.

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  5. Hey, Barb -- should be out there this summer! I'll post my schedule here and on FB.

    Dean, it really is beautiful. Especially when it doesn't rain ; )

    Anon: GroundFrog Day! I LOVE it. I've already got a short story in mind ...

    Gail, I'm writing a (sort of) cozy set in Savannah right now, which is a larger venue than Cadyville by far. Lucky for me Savannah has so much personality!

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