Last week, I started talking about unusual locations for stories, pulled from the author’s own background. I used my visit to Kansas as an example. I guess I just like off the beaten track spots for my stories.
Another unlikely location is the town I grew up in, in Western Nebraska. If you look at a map of Nebraska, you’ll see Scottsbluff. It’s the biggest city in the panhandle –which isn’t saying much, really, because it’s under 15,000 people. The city I live in, here in Florida, is a little over 20,000. It seems like a vast metropolis in comparison.
However, since I’m familiar with the city, or I was mumble mumble years ago, I feel comfortable setting stories there. One such story is my novel, Under the Western Sky. I call it a retro-romance, because it’s set in 1976. Can’t really call that historical, can you?
Libby Marshall has just started dating Bobby Menendez. They couldn’t have chosen a more inopportune time to get together, because racial tensions are at an all time high. Unbeknownst to them, a white supremacists organization has a strong presence in their small city. Their relationship inadvertently sets off an avalanche of hate-induced violence, threatening to overwhelm them and their families.
I chose the location for two reasons. One, I grew up there, and it was familiar. Two, the underlying racial hatred was real. I didn’t notice it as a teen, or a child, but looking back on it with an adult’s eye, I could see it. Bobby and Libby are from different cultural backgrounds, but they are very similar, as well. I didn’t realize at the time I was writing it, it has a very deep message about tolerance vs. hate, but I’m really proud of it. It’s another of my Tirgearr Publishing novels.
This is the first scene from the book. Like many others, it’s (very loosely) based on something that actually happened with me and one of my friends.
Libby Marshal leaned over the pool table, slender hips twitching to KC and the Sunshine Band. She hummed distractedly as she lined up her shot.
Bobby Menendez stood behind her, enjoying the view; his hands tingling to touch her.
“Touch me and die, Roberto Hermida Menendez.”
“Man! How did you know?”
She made her shot, long distance across the felt top, nearly nailing him in the balls with her pool cue when her arm drew back.
“Shouldn’t stand so close,” Danny said, across the table from her.
“Oh, man, the view!”
Bobby held his hands the width of her hips apart. He bit his lip as she faced him, a frown on her face. Her green eyes flashed at him. With a toss of her short, blonde, curly hair, she moved away from him with a glare. His dark brown eyes followed her, longing in his well-tanned face.
“View’s damn good over here, and safer,” Danny grinned.
He’d been looking down her top as she bent over to shoot. He loved the fact that it was 1976 and even in this small, conservative, western Nebraska town, girls were liberated, freeing them from the confines of establishment undergarments. The no-bra look was great! And Libby had such perky tits. Bobby could have his dangerous ass view, Danny went for tits every time.
“Boys, behave,” Toni’s father said from his office behind them.
Funny thing how Toni’s old man always had work to do when the boys came over. He would casually follow the four of them down to the pool room in the basement and sit in his workroom fiddling with some electrical components while they played pool and listened to music. He didn’t mind them coming over, but they weren’t going to be unchaperoned either.
“Yes, sir,” they chorused.
They stepped back, snapping to attention, not quite saluting. Each with military fathers, it was hard not to when he talked in that tone. He’d been fifteen years as a Marine before a shell shattered his right leg. Everyone in town called him Captain Cristo. Only the very brave called him Grant.
I always liked this scene, because it introduces the main characters, and gives a little bit of background to them, and the times when they live. It also reminds me of many long hours playing pool with my friend, in her basement. Her father, too, was watchful, and always had something mysterious to do in his workroom when we had boys over.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes