This last Saturday, on June 27th, I got to meet one of my favorite musicians, Colbie Caillat! I’d included a reference to her and her song Never Gonna Let You Down in my novel Memories of a Ghost, and, when I learned she was coming to town, contacted her agent and told her about the book and asked if I drop off an autographed copy for Ms. Caillat. Instead, they invited me to meet her at the concert, where I could give her the book myself!
She seem genuinely excited to be mentioned in the novel, and said she thought it was “really cool.” She thanks me for the book and wished me luck, and then we were off to see the concert. (Which was awesome!)
Memories of a Ghost takes place mostly in Rogers, Arkansas
Memories of a Ghost is my first novel to take place in Rogers, Arkansas, where I’ve lived for the past 10+ years. All of the places in the novel at real, though occasionally they are altered to better fit into the novel. Well, that, and there are no ghosts in Rogers…at least that I know of. And with that said, here’s a mini-pictorial tour through Memories of a Ghost.
Dr. Elisabeth Greenwald’s Office…at least in the book!
This where the story starts. Claire Summers awakes in the office of Dr. Elisabeth “Leesie” Greenwald. She doesn’t remember how she got there or anything about her life, including her name.
The car accident that changes Claire’s life happens here, at the corner of 13th and Persimmon. But was it indeed an accident?
A silver BMW runs down a man right in front of the doctor’s office, on the corner of 13th and Persimmon. Who was the man, and what, if anything, did he have to do with Claire Summers?
After running away from the clinic, Claire finds herself at Olive Street Park.
Claire bolts from the doctor’s office, runs through the suburbs, and finds herself at Olive Street Park, where she meets a strange man named Jimmy Cross. In reality, I took my son here many, many times as a little boy.
An old tree in Olive Street Park. Or is it something more?
Jimmy points out something buried at the base of this old tree, something that will play heavily into the end of the story. It’s a (spoiler,) and she uses (spoiler) to (spoiler.)
Just your every day Family Dollar, next to the Casey’s across from the Olive Street Park.
After speaking to Jimmy for a while, Claire crosses the street to purchase some snacks. When she walks back to the park, Jimmy has mysteriously disappeared. Thankfully, Leesie finds her and return the purse and shoes that she left at the office.
My favorite Thai restaurant in Rogers…well, it was, before it closed down, replaced by a sushi restaurant.
Leesie and Claire pick up dinner at Red Curry before heading to Leesie’s house. Leesie doesn’t want Claire to go home alone, but why?
The Rogers cemetery, on Walnut Street
Claire and Leesie pass the Rogers cemetery on their way to Leesie’s house. I took a few liberties with the cemetery in the book. For one thing, the book version has a wrought iron fence surrounding it. In my opinion, all cemeteries should have a wrought iron fence, and, at least in my books, they always will.
Champions Estates is a fancy-schmancy neighborhood in Rogers
Leesie lives in the Champions Estates development in Rogers. She owns a nice house that she used to share with her ex-husband Pete Snow. Why did they split up? Well, as it turns out, (spoiler.)
The Mercy Medical system in Rogers is very nice, and, to my knowledge, does not harbor (spoiler.)
Leesie takes Claire to the Mercy hospital, to see various specialists to help with her amnesia. Dr. Annie Sturdivant gives her some pills, but before she can take them…well, I’m getting ahead of myself. Before she leaves the hospital, Claire runs into a couple of (spoiler.)
North Mallard Lane is actually in my neighborhood.
After the hospital, Leesie takes Claire to her home on Mallard Lane, where she finds clues about her life.. Claire learns that she has a husband, but he’s (spoiler.) She meets her cat Corduroy, but soon (spoiler.)
Pete Snow, Leesie’s ex-husband, is a detective with the Rogers Police Department.
What danger lies behind these trees?
This is in Dodson cemetery, the inspiration for Rosewood cemetery in the novel. This cemetery is also lacking a wrought iron fence – but not in the book!
Pete Snow is a detective for the Rogers Police Department, and, in many ways, the moral compass in the book. He’s also Leesie Greenwald’s ex-husband. Despite their divorce, Pete loves Leesie very much and would do anything for her-he’d even (spoiler.)
Is this the house where (spoiler) was (spoiler), and where (spoiler)? Well, no, not really, it’s just a house with a lot of trees in front of it. But it’s as close as I could find to the house in the book!
The final (spoiler) in the book takes place here, at Rosewood (Dodson, in real life) cemetery. There’s a pet semetary (get the reference?) behind this cemetery, which may someday play a role in a future book!
There are many settings in the book not pictured here, mostly because they either don’t take place in Rogers (a nice little chunk of the book takes place in Carthage, Illinois, at Moss Ridge cemetery, as shown in my Small Things pictorial) or because revealing the setting would give away too much of the book. The Benton County Morgue, for example. Well, and they probably wouldn’t let me inside to take photos.
I will be at Create-It Con, a celebration of creators, tinkerers, makers, builders, bakers, painters, engineers, and anyone that likes to CREATE AWESOME THINGS, on Saturday, July 11th, 2015, from 10 a.m – 4:30 p.m., at the Rogers Public Library in Rogers, Arkansas. I’ll be signing (and selling, naturally) books, giving away bookmarks, and participating in a panel on writing! If you leave in the area (or can teleport) come out and see me!
Small Things takes place almost entirely in Carthage, Illinois, where I grew up.
Tanner drowned here, in the Carthage Lake
Small Things takes place in Carthage, Illinois, where I grew up. All of the places in the novel are real, albeit sometimes re-imagined. With that said, here’s a (very) mini-pictorial tour through Small Things.
(Spoiler) tracks Shawn as he rides his bicycle past the Carthage Court House.
Tanner was buried in Moss Ridge Cemetery, and some pivotal scenes take place there as well
This is where (spoiler) happens, and, later, (spoiler) is visited by his (spoiler) and (spoiler.)
Various people have drowned in the Carthage Lake over the years, so Tanner drowning there wasn’t really a stretch.
Carthage is the county seat of Hancock County, and as such has a beautiful courthouse that occupies the center of the town square. There’s also a boulder (not pictured) that marks where Abraham Lincoln once stood to give a speech.
Moss Ridge Cemetery is a pivotal location in Small Things, and plays a big part in Memories of a Ghost as well.
I grew up on Fayette Street in Carthage, just down the road from Moss Ridge. I spent many nights spooked out about the thought of ghosts and zombies making their way from there to my house!
The entrance to the Carthage Swimming Pool, where Shawn attempts to teach Jenny to swim, but unfortunately (spoiler.)
Jenny liked to go to the park and sit on the swings. It helped her think.
The Carthage Swimming pool hasn’t changed much from when I was a kid. In Small Things, Jenny talks about a frustrated swimming instructor tossing her out into the middle of the pool in a failed attempt to force her to swim. That actually happened to me!
Here’s the slide upon where Shawn and Jenny went during their (spoiler.)
I swear this is the same swing set that was there when I was a kid. This is in the Jaycee Park, a place I spent a fair amount of time at as a child. The park appears in both Small Things and Threads.
The same goes for the slide! I am pretty sure the playground equipment here hasn’t changed since the 1970’s. A pivotal scene in Shawn and Jenny’s relationship takes place on top of that slide.
Shawn and Jenny hide in the Old Carthage Jail when being chased by (spoiler.)
The Old Carthage jail is where Mormon founder Joseph Smith was killed. The Mormon Church has owned it was as long as I can remember, and gives tours. Every summer, my friends and I would take the tour not to learn about Mormon history but because the inside was air conditioned!
My real-life grandmother, Tillie Young, makes a brief appearance in Small Things
My real-life grandmother, Matilda “Tillie” Young, makes a brief appearance in Small Things early on in the novel and has a conversation with the hero of my book, Shawn Spencer. Tillie passed away in 2003, at the age of 83, and this was my way of honoring her, immortalizing her forever within the pages of my novel.
There are many scenes from Small Things not pictured here, in some cases because the landmarks no longer exist or because they are in such disrepair (like the old Lincoln Elementary school) that they look nothing like they once did. The old house where so many scenes take place isn’t pictured because it exists solely in my mind’s eye. Besides, sometimes things are better left to the imagination.
Gabe phased into view, along with the phantom dog they’d found wandering the property last night. Her father rubbed the coon dog behind the ears, and Claire wondered for not the first time how ghosts could touch.