Small Town Imprints


smalll town

I believe the circumstances of childhood affect a person throughout life. The elements of small town life, for example, imprint forever.

I was born and raised in a small town where life moved forward at a crawl. Each day seemed unending, each breath I took slow, steady.  My world consisted of dirt yards (no grass) that lined narrow dirt roads that led to nowhere. The perimeters of my existence, the boundaries of my environment, included the three blocks I walked to elementary school, and beyond the school an additional landscape through a forest, equivalent to three more blocks, which I meandered through to get to the small neighborhood store where I picked up groceries for my mother. (Yes, the forest was a shortcut, but to use the roads would have added miles and made my frequent journey impossible.)

Small Town Imagination

As I wandered through those trees and underbrush, which were within the city limits, I became a cowgirl, Tarzan (yes, I know he was a male) and sometimes a gorilla, and full-blown stories sprang to mind. I can still visualize clearly every step I took in that enchanted place, the ground under my feet either giving way when the soil was damp or crunching if I stepped on brittle twigs or leaves.  If as Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” my imagination was nurtured by my surroundings—the quiet, the slow pace, the time to dream. That reality shaped the person I became. It never leaves me.

Literary Effects

My two equally favorite books are To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. The first, of course, was set in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, and I can see my small town life within the limits of Scout and Jem’s world. That’s not to overlook the exceptional writing style or the compelling story, but just to focus on how I am drawn to stories with similar circumstances to those of my early development. The power of that situation.

(What my small town didn’t do for me was broaden my horizons, help me understand the components of the larger, outside world. That’s where my other favorite novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, comes in, but that’s a subject for another post.)

So in the eight novels I have had published by various publishers, the setting is always a small town. And, of course, the Mystery, Ink. novels are set in a small town. Each of those novels create the tone of the town. It’s part of the mystique.

What is the landscape of your heart?


About Lawrence and Suella Walsh
Managing Editors of Mystery, Ink. Novels. Taught writing for 20 years at Johnson County Community College. Freelance writers with 12 published books and more than 100 articles and short stories in national magazines. Owners of Walsh Writing Services.

2 Responses to Small Town Imprints

  1. lkdaly says:

    Love this post, Suella.


    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy™ S II 4G

  2. Kelly Moothart says:

    I love To Kill a Mockingbird as well for the small town setting and how it returns the reader to childhood. The landscape of my heart is the Midwest, family and friendship.

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