Friday, May 20, 2011

Hometown Visits

Hi. My name is Liz Johnson. And I'm addicted to this season of American Idol. I just can't stop watching it!

In the past, I may have teased my roommate about her affection for the show, but I'm starting to understand it. Maybe, like me, you've made this show one of your weekly rituals. If so, you probably saw this week's episodes--where the top three contestants took trips to their hometowns. They were greeted by mobs of cheering hometown fans and visited areas of interest. Sweet Scotty McCreery visited the grocery store where he once worked. And in a particularly emotional segment, Lauren Alaina visited her hometown in Georgia, which was hit hard by the recent string of tornadoes across Alabama and Georgia.

Watching these clips got me thinking about my hometown. Really all of our hometowns. What is it about the town where we grew up that evokes nostalgia and a sense of belonging? I haven't lived in the smallish city in Arizona where I grew up in 5 years, but it's still home. Still the place where I know my way around and where I belong.

It also got me thinking about how authors--myself included--pay homage to our hometowns. Maybe it's the way we make our fictional towns resemble the real thing. Maybe it's the way we add our favorite restaurant into a story. Maybe it's the way we bring the quirky real characters to life on the page.

For me, it was in my first book, The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, where my hero Myles reminisced about his high school football days at Yuma High playing the Kofa Kings. Neither school is my alma mater, but definitely a cross-town rivals. And when I shared that book with friends and strangers alike, they loved the Yuma connection.

So here's my question for you: Have you ever read a book set in a city you call home? Or have you written one and included some of your hometown favorites? What did you enjoy most about it?


Sheri said...

Yes, one of Ted Dekker's books was set in Austin, TX and those were my old stomping grounds in college. Lots of fun to read about places that I could really visualize in my mind. :o)

Liz Johnson said...

Sheri, that's great! I hope your college experience didn't directly mirror Ted's book though! :) That would be one frightening college experience! ;)