Sometimes fiction collides with fact in the most unusual ways. Beverly Nault talks about her novel, Fresh Start Summer.
This is the story of two towns, one real and one imagined, that came together in an unusual way. Several years ago I began a book series based on a small town filled with folks you’d want to as friends in a setting you’d never want to leave. They would have their share of squabbles, but the quirky and colorful characters would get past their differences to strengthen friendships and their community.
Each title would take place during one season, so I pictured a main street with the changing appearance of trees, from the icicled branches in winter to spring’s promise of buds and blooms. I “planted” cherry trees that would blossom in the spring along cobblestoned walks lit with modern gas lamps, inviting park benches, and curiosity shops beckoning a leisurely visit. This town would need the perfect name, something referring to the cherry trees. I searched the map and found a small town in Kansas named Cherryvale. I hoped they wouldn’t mind me using their lovely name.
So began The Seasons of Cherryvale with the first title Fresh Start Summer. As the book released and I began marketing, I’d all but forgotten about the real town until I read a blog comment from a fellow named Richard. He asked me if I knew about the “real” Cherryvale.
Gulp. Yessir. I did. Hope you don’t mind me using your name!
I waited to see the town’s reaction. As it turns out, they did NOT mind at all. After local inhabitants read the first book, they invited me to not only visit, but also bring my books to their next Cherry Blossom Festival. I graciously accepted and—after having to reschedule due to a freaky spring snowstorm—was treated to a VIP weekend where I had a very successful book signing, an appearance at the library, a private tour of the Cherryvale Museum and saw many sights around town escorted by my new friends, residents of the “real” Cherryvale.
How similar were the two Cherryvales?
They were so much alike I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. Both Cherryvales have a B&B, a beautiful town lake, lovely homes, and a quaint Main Street. Also, lots of school spirit as indicated by the high school football game we attended, and of course, challenges that any community has. Everyone has an interesting history—and some even whispered juicy nuggets for future storylines! Everything you might expect from any small town.
One of the most unusual likenesses between book and town was that in Fresh Start Summer a Hollywood crew arrived to film a movie. This sets off events that turn the town upside down. As I arrived in the “real” Cherryvale, a Hollywood crew had just finished filming a movie about “The Bloody Benders,” a notorious gang famous for their short but violent reign in the late 1800’s. (My fictional movie was not bloody, however.)
My favorite similarity though, is that like the fictional town I’d dreamed up, I felt an immediate sense of welcome as soon as I arrived in the real Cherryvale. I continue to keep in touch with my new “neighbors” through social media, and consider myself an honorary Cherryvalian, anxious to return for another visit as soon as possible.
We all want our neighborhoods to be a place of warmth and friendship, and readers yearn to read books to help them escape to a place or to go on an adventure they can remember fondly forever. I believe both Cherryvales fit their bills nicely.
FRESH START SUMMER is a finalist in the 2014 Reader's Favorite Book Award contest in their Humor and Inspirational categories.
Beverly can be found at:
Amazon author page