What do think when you return to your hometown? Does it make you happy? Sad? Did you grow up in a big city or a small town? For many of us, it brings conflicted emotions, especially if we have family members still living there.
I only pose these questions because they loom large in many of my novels. In my newest book, PRAY FOR THE GIRL (due out 5/30/2019), Lucy Abbott returns to her small Maine town after fifteen years in Manhattan only to discover that an Afghani girl had been stoned to death. Not only does this complicate her relationship to her friends and family, but the death of the girl changes her relationship to the small town she grew up in. It’s not the same place she left. Nor is she the same person.
Surprisingly, I did not grow up in a small town, even though most of my books take place in small towns. There’s something about returning home that intrigues me, especially how old acquaintances perceive you after many years away. What are the bullies and jocks like now? The pretty girls and the class clowns? People change and it’s interesting to see if they changed for the better or for worse. Some even end up behind bars. One of the worst, most pathetic wrestlers on the wrestling team in my hometown went on to become a big MMA star.
Gillian Flynn portrays these small towns wonderfully in SHARP OBJECTS. Camille returns home to write a report on a murder. But she has her own secrets to hide. Her interaction with her town seems fraught with danger and peril. Her mother proves to be a monster like no other. If you haven’t read this book than I suggest you do.
Many people hate returning home on account that they experienced a bad childhood or had a rough time in school. Others enjoy going home. Some never leave. I feel ambivalent about returning to my hometown because of some events that have happened. There was certainly good time, and certainly many bad times too. I still return every now and then, since it’s near Boston. But will I return when there’s no one left? How do you feel about going home?
I do, however, enjoy writing about it. Maybe it’s my complicated feelings about the matter that make it a fruitful topic for my novels. Add in the element of crime and it becomes so much more intriguing. In PRAY FOR THE GIRL, Lucy mud navigate a class bully as well as a love interest that wants to renew their teenage relationship—after fifteen years have passed. Complicating matters is a dying diner and the influx of Afghani immigrants that have moved into Fawn Grove, not to mention a dead Muslim girl.
So, tell me how you feel about returning to your hometown. In the meantime, make sure you preorder your copy of PRAY FOR THE GIRL and see how Lucy deals with her return to Fawn Grove, Maine.