When my family first moved to Delaware in 1976, we visited as many historic sites as we could find within an easy drive. There is no shortage, from Colonial through WWII. One of those places is Newlin Grist Mill. When we went there in the early 1980s, the 1704 mill was newly restored. We were fascinated. We always intended to go back, but we never did, until the day I went up to interview for the job of receptionist/interpreter.
Take a look: http://www.newlingristmill.org
Newlin is more than an operating gristmill. It is 160 acre park with nature trails, a blacksmith shop, an apple orchard, gardens, log cabin, and a colonial kitchen. We stock the ponds with trout for fishing between March and October. I have a tendency to remember the dogs that come to the park rather than the people and many of them have become my friends.
I was lucky this time. I could wear the same clothes I do at Greenbank. Work clothing doesn’t change much over time. Look at jeans, we have been wearing them since 1873, perhaps longer.
I had been working there for a year or so when a call went out for short stories for an anthology, and I knew at once Newlin had to be the setting.
I am a visual writer. I see a movie in my head and write it down as it goes by. I have to be as familiar with the setting as with the characters. The story happens at two locations, so Greenbank was the sure choice for the second. How long do you suppose it would take a wagon to cover the 15 miles between the two sites? Pretty much all day with a stop at the 9 Tun Tavern which was about half way between the two sites. The story, “Sleeping With the Fish,” was published in Fish Tales, A Guppy Anthology: http://www.wildsidebooks.com/Fish-Tales-The-Guppy-Anthology-edited-by-Ramona-DeFelice-Long-trade-pb_p_7754.html
Actually there are more sheep than fish in the story. But of all the stories I have written, this is the most dependent on the site. Come visit and I will show you where the body was found, where Clarissa lived and where the sheep who solved the whole thing were kept.
I have a second story featuring Clarissa that I am still working on. I can see clearly where she and her father stand in front of the mill to confront the thief.
Are other writers as inspired as I am by places? Do readers have favorite places for fiction settings?