August 13th 2013
Hey there! Long time, no see in these parts, but it’s good to be back on SFNovelists!
When Marie suggested this month’s topic, I leaped at the chance to write about big cities, small towns, and various living arrangements in between. The concept has been at the front of my mind for the last nine months, as I put the finishing touches on my latest novel, Single Witch’s Survival Guide.
Single Witch is the first volume in an all-new series, the Jane Madison Academy Series. It takes characters familiar to me (and, I hope, to all of you!) and takes them out of the big city — Washington, D.C. Jane and her companions are living on a farm in rural Maryland. The closest town is Parkersville (an imaginary little hamlet, which is big enough to have a non-chain grocery store, a diner, and a bakery.)
I had a lot of reasons for moving Jane from the city to the country. I wanted to signal to my readers that this is an all-new series. Even if you’ve never heard of Jane Madison before, you can pick up Single Witch and start reading today; there’s no need to have followed our heroine’s earlier adventures.
I also wanted to narrow some of Jane’s options. She no longer has the entire city of Washington, D.C. at her fingertips, for jaunts to the museums, for meals out at favorite restaurants, for madcap encounters with good guys and bad.
Instead, I wanted to push her into a bit of claustrophobia. She’s living with too many people in too small a space. She’s forced to build solutions where none already exists. She must find ways to work with her students and their familiars and their warders; she can’t just run away when things start to go wrong.
At the same time, taking Jane out of the city gave me more options for her. She has suddenly become aware of the natural world around her, in a way that she never fully understood the gardens outside her city home. She recognizes that she’s a part of the whole.
To this city-born, city-raised, city-dwelling person that part/whole dichotomy is really the core of the “big city/small town” debate. When you’re from a small town, people know you. They recognize when you’re not where you’re supposed to be, when you’re doing things you’re not supposed to be doing. There’s a whole layer of expectation and obligation.
As a big city person, I instinctively view small town life as insular, as confining. But through my characters, I’m forced to consider that small towns just might open more doors than we ever manage to see in the big city.
What do you think? Do small towns or big cities offer inherently different opportunities to belong? To play expected roles? How about unexpected ones? Where would you found a school for witches, if that was on your Bucket List?
Single Witch’s Survival Guide hits stores today. Get a copy from these fine retailers!
Filed under Mindy Klasky. You can also use to trackback.
Mindy Klasky is the author of eleven novels, including WHEN GOOD WISHES GO BAD and HOW NOT TO MAKE A WISH in the As You Wish Series. She also wrote GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT, SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL, and MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL, about a librarian who finds out she's a witch. Mindy also wrote the award-winning, best-selling Glasswrights series and the stand-alone fantasy novel, SEASON OF SACRIFICE. Visit site.
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