A friend of mine contacted me not too long ago, after reading one of my books, to say how she was somewhat disappointed in herself because the book she had written was a sort of historical fiction based in a fictional Wisconsin town, while the book of mine she had just read, The Agora Files, was futuristic fiction and had a bit of the action located right in the very real town I live in, Eau Claire, WI.
Had she read Daddy of the Dead, she would have found that this zombie-filled horror about my own coming to terms with fatherhood was based entirely on the very real route from Chicago, IL to Menomonie, WI. One of my current works in progress is set just a few hours north of here. My children’s book I’m polishing up at the moment, Chippewa Chao and the Marvelous Macaroon Mission, is also based right here in the good ol’ Chippewa Valley of Wisconsin.
You might say there’s a bit of a trend there.
In my re-read of The Agora Files – Part I as I ramp up to begin writing the third and final book in that series, I couldn’t help but stop and think about the inclusion of my happy little hometown within the pages of my book set in a not-entirely-happy United States.
For those of you who haven’t yet read the book, in it the U.S. has become something of tyrannical beast. There’s a big war going on between the federal government and a group of plucky rebels who are looking to change things. Cyrus, the protagonist of the story, finds himself somewhere in the middle. The story takes him through learning about both sides of this war and, well, mostly determining that neither side seems all that awesome.
But then, approximately halfway through the book, he finds himself in this rather surreal moment as he is welcomed to a giant festival in his honor, right in my good old chosen hometown of Eau Claire, WI. The moment was created to be a disorienting one, but also one to show how the world might not all be in completely terrible shape.
It was a moment I had designed well before I knew where he was going to be when it happened. But when I considered all that was going to go into the scene, there really was only one place which made sense. Eau Claire.
You see, this little city in which I live has a lot going for it. It’s got a strong agricultural scene, an abundant amount of industrial coverage, and, even more than all that, a great amount of heart. If there would be one place I’d want to be should the world break down, it would be here.
This is a town that has, on numerous occasions, has come back from near dissolution due to large corporations jumping ship and thereby leaving a large part of the city’s workforce unemployed.
This is a town currently in the midst of a complete revolution in how it thinks and acts in order to go prepare for the modern age, to welcome in the newer generation, to be prepared for all that is to come as the world is changing.
But most importantly, this is a town that defines the phrase “Wisconsin Nice”….yeah…I know those Minnesota folks like to use the phrase, but come here, you’ll learn who is doing it right.
So, when I was looking for a location which would be prepared to welcome this scoundrel with loving/open arms, there really was no better place than right here in good old Eau Claire, WI.
Heck, just back in April, had Trump, Clinton, Sanders and Cruz were all within just miles of each other, right here in Eau Claire, throwing big events, and not a single bit of crazy happened…well, you know, outside of whatever might have come from those behind the podiums…we can’t control that.
So, not only was this the location where I could depict this lovely serene location nestled in the tall green pines, settled on the convergence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers. It was also the only place I’ve found within this country where a man who was on top of the most wanted list with an impossibly large bounty on his head could possibly have been openly celebrated and not be in danger. Not to say that we actively or regularly celebrate federal fugitives, just that in this specific case, we might have.
I’ve often considered the idea of moving to a different city/state for a number of different reasons. But time and again I look at my plucky hometown and realize that I really couldn’t ask for anything better.
So why do I write about my hometown? Because I honestly think is pretty darn awesome. And it’s one of the few places where things feel…almost perfect.
Now the real question is…why am I even talking about this right now…That I can’t answer. I was just feeling a bit of love for my hometown as I re-read the pages I wrote several years ago and thinking about how well they hold true even today.
Now if only we could get us a Krispy Kreme and a Waffle House around here, I could take away that almost in front of the word perfect… 🙂
Have fun out there!