Welcome to the Hemlock blog tour! I’m so happy to be part of a tour that celebrates Canadian talent in literature. The first book in the Hemlock trilogy is a great addition to paranormal YA fiction, and I’m pleased to be hosting Kathleen on the blog today.
Among the many things that intrigued me about Mac’s story was the setting. Hemlock is a quiet town, but it contains explosive secrets that leave its residents forever altered. I took this chance to ask Kathleen about the inspiration for Mac’s hometown and the way it shaped its people.
It never occurred to me that Hemlock could be set anywhere other than in the United States. The world I wanted to portray involved a massive government response to a virus, and saying an agency is like “a cross between the CDC and the CIA” has more of an impact than saying it’s “a cross between Health Canada and CSIS.”
But even though I knew the story would be set in the US, I didn’t necessarily want to be tied to a real town or even a specific state. I wanted the freedom to describe a location that suited my needs and (hopefully) would give me a little leeway to hide the fact that I’m a Canadian who has never ventured farther than Maine.
I wanted my own Sunnydale and I found the inspiration for it close to home—primarily in the Canadian city of Fredericton.
In Hemlock, I wanted a clear divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” without resorting to an actual railroad track. Fredericton was the ideal muse. The city straddles a river and is divided into distinct north and south regions. The downtown area (which is uber quaint and charming) is practically right on top of the river bank; you constantly catch glimpses of water from certain streets. There are also a ton of historic houses—many of which have been converted into apartments like the one Tess and Mac share.
That’s not to say that Hemlock is a carbon copy of Fredericton. Far from it. My city is almost three times Fredericton’s size, has a completely different economy and socioeconomic groups, has a single community college (as opposed to Fredericton’s numerous postsecondary institutions), and—river and downtown aside—much of the geography is different.
Still, basing parts of the city on a real place helped me flesh things out in my mind and on the page. It made Hemlock seem more real to me which, I hope, will make it seem more real to readers.
For a practical guide for what to take into account when creating a fictional city, check out my guide to creating a fictional town on The Other Side of the Story.
Kathleen spent most of her teen years writing short stories. She put her writing dreams on hold while attending college but rediscovered them when office life started leaving her with an allergy to cubicles.
Hemlock, her first novel, will be released on May 8th by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins.
Be sure to check back on Friday for my review of Hemlock!
Categories: Guest Posts