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Monday, May 7, 2012



As a young child my imagination was forever captured and my mind warped by the classic film based on Frank Baum’s book The Wizard of Oz. The multi-layered story is much more than it may seem on first viewing. In my various writings I’ve had characters reference the show and quotes from it as well. One of my favorite themes within The Wizard of Oz is power. Dorothy possessed the power to go home all the time but doesn’t realize it. It takes a journey through dangers and facing fears to find out. It requires others to show her what she possessed all the time. And at the end of the movie the viewer learns that exotic, lovely Oz is no more than Dorothy’s imagination or so it seems.

I’m thinking about Oz today because I’m thinking about settings. Some writers like to choose exotic settings someplace far, far from home. Others write about places in their own backyard. I do a little of both although I seldom write about any place I haven’t been. Why? Because as a reader, nothing infuriates me quicker than reading about a place I know and I can tell the author doesn’t. I usually read any book to the end but I quit on a book by a well-known author because her story set in the southwest corner of Arkansas, flat country dotted with oil wells and known as part of the Ark-La-Tex was described as being in the Ozark Mountains and dotted with pine trees. The Ozarks ended about mid-state and pines aren’t common. A friend of mine hated Stephen King’s The Stand for the simple reason scenes set in her hometown of Pratt, Kansas said the town had a square when it doesn’t, didn’t, and never will.

I think of these things when I sit to write and I do my best to make sure I get the settings right.

My upcoming May 17 full length historical romance In The Shadow of War from Rebel Ink Press is set where I now live, in the small Ozarks town of Neosho, Missouri, during a pivotal point in history. Neosho was home to the “real” Camp Swampy, Camp Crowder during World War II. Mort Walker, artist known for his famous comic strip Beetle Bailey, was stationed there and the soldiers did indeed call the place Camp Swampy. My next up from Rebel is also a historical but set this time in my hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri. People in both places are eager to read fiction by a hometown author in a familiar setting.

Here’s the blurb for In The Shadow of War:

Her great-granddaughter wants to know if Bette remembers World War II for a school project and her questions revive old memories….

Small town school teacher Bette Sullivan's life was interrupted when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941 but her world changed forever when she met Private Benny Levy, a soldier from the Flatbush neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York stationed at Camp Crowder, the local Army base.

Their attraction is immediate and mutual but as their relationship grows their love and lives are shadowed by World War II. As the future looms uncertain the couple comes together with almost desperate need and a powerful love they hope can weather anything, including the war.


Jason said...

this sounds so interesting. I'm putting it on my TBR list!


Allison Merritt said...

Great interview, Lee Ann! Your book sounds interesting. I'll tell my mom about it too, we love reading historicals with local history.

Melissa Keir said...

Hi LeeAnn! I love Elvis! I can't wait to hear more about your latest story!