Here's Alison with her take on small towns.
Thank you for hosting me, Diane. Like most writers, I love to talk about my books, and today I’m excited to share my new holiday short story collection, Small Town Christmas Tales: Ten Short Holiday Romances. These stories are like mini television Christmas movies, set in fictional towns in ten different states.
Before I start writing any story, long or short, I need to decide several important things about my characters. After physical appearance and basic temperament, I want to know what this person does for a living. Usually, I want the character’s occupation to tell the reader more about his or her personality, although in one of these stories the heroine’s occupation is in direct conflict with her true personality, and that’s part of the fun.
I’m a city girl and have never had what anyone would consider a fun job. I worked in insurance for thirty-seven years—NOT what I had in mind for any of my characters. I wanted them to have more colorful jobs. In Small Town Christmas Tales, a few of my heroines have what I would consider regular jobs: one is a lawyer, one a young college professor, and another works in marketing. Most of the rest, however, own small businesses. The small town settings lent themselves perfectly to creating the kind of fun, quirky small business I would want to run if I lived in a small town.
As I started writing, I was surprised that one of the most entertaining aspects of writing these stories turned out to be choosing names for those businesses. Naming is business is a lot like finding the perfect title for a book. I always need a title I like before I can jump into writing a new story, and in this collection I needed business names for the same reason. Here is a sampling of what I came up with:
A Stitch in Time – the heroine’s yarn and needlework shop in “If Wishes Were Fishes”
The Hidden Gem – the geologist heroine’s rock and handmade jewelry shop in “The Brightest Jewel”
Pearl’s Perfect Pies – the heroine’s grandma’s pie shop in “Penguins, Pucks, and Pumpkin Pies”
Tolliver’s Tiny Treasures – the heroine’s miniatures shop in “Liza’s Secret Santa”
Furry Friends – the SPCA benefit shop the heroine manages in “Second Hand Hearts”
Byte Me – the hero’s computer services business in “Christmas 2.0”
These businesses were so much fun to create, they almost made me want to go into business myself. Almost. As it is, I think I’ll stick to writing.
Thanks so much for visiting with me today. If you’re ready for a little Christmas, I invite you to check out Small Town Christmas Tales, available in ebook and paperback exclusively at Amazon. Click here!
I began writing when my daughter entered preschool (she's now a full-fledged adult) and became addicted to the challenge of translating the living, breathing images in my mind into words. I write romance because that's what I like to read. The world provides more than enough drama and tragedy. I want to give my readers the happily-ever-after we all crave.