I’ve been reading a lot of cozy mysteries lately and the one thing they all have in common is small towns. I love small towns. Not just reading about them, but being in them. There is just something about them that makes them well… cozy. I did not grow up in a small town, though it was much much smaller than it is now, but I had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time with my grandparents who did live in a small town and later, way out in the country. Needless to say I miss my grandparents terribly, but I also miss the country.
Yes, it’s true that everyone knows your business in a small town, and that can be a downside. Though it’s perfect for a mystery. Just think, everything the sleuth needs to know can be found out from the grapevine. Don’t get me wrong, Everyone knowing your business can also be a good thing. When someone is messing around your home or business, people pay attention. If it’s not someone they know, they either confront them or call the police. Again useful in a mystery, but also in real life. They let you know when your kids are out of your sight and acting up.
The sense of community in a small town is wonderful. How many of your neighbors do you know? I only know three, and two of them have lived by me for the last twenty-five years. Small town citizens know one another. They sit outside in the evenings and talk to one another. They go borrow eggs, or cups of sugar. They go to a store and people talk to each other in line. Or perhaps I should say, I don’t get dirty looks when I try to start up a conversation with the person in line next to me. What can I say, I’m very outgoing and love to meet new people. In the city, it’s hit or miss. I find that mostly older and middle aged men or elderly women are the ones that will converse with me.
Small towns have a lot less traffic. I don’t know about you, but this is a big bonus for me. Less traffic equals less crazy people driving around texting on their phone and not paying attention to what they are doing. It also means less rudeness, and less waiting. Of course, the country isn’t without its traffic problems. You get the occasional cow in the road or the occasional farmer on his tractor. However, most farmer or slow moving loaded down pick up trucks will scoot over and wave you past. You sure don’t see that in the city.
Another thing I love is the quiet. Oh sure, there is the occasional tractor, generator, neighing horse and barking dog, but it’s much more quiet than in the city. No traffic with horns, no sounds of big crowds, no incessant dog barking, or awful sounding birds. You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that sound like rabid chipmunks. Are they called grackles? Ugh! Makes me want to take up bird hunting. You also get great sounds in the country, cows mooing, chickens clucking and warbling, crickets, cicadas, trains clump-clumping over the tracks. I can live without the train whistles though.
Out in the country, the scents are nicer too. Fresh hay, morning dew, honeysuckle, dirt… yup, dirt has a scent. There is nothing quite like fresh air and getting back to nature. One of the things I love about my chickens is following them around during “free range” and watching their antics. It’s very relaxing…almost like meditation. But, I would love it even more without the sound of airplanes and cars.
Then there is the lack of light pollution away from big cities. If you’ve never experienced it, it is a must! The dark is so dark and the stars! OH boy! The stars are amazing.
So if you can’t get away from the city and the urbanization, pick up a good book set in a small town. As I mentioned, cozy mysteries are fraught with them, but Harlequin is a great place to look as well. My books, The Tin Star and The Broken H, both feature small towns. Look for them to be rerelease late this year, but until then–if you are so inclined– check out Shifting Sands which is also set in the country. Or try some of these books from my lovely critique partners. No Small Parts, The Secret of Hunter’s Bog, These Haunted Heights by Ally Blue. Not sure if Chapel Hill qualifies as a small town since it’s a college town, BUT The Mojo Mystery series by Ally is awesome! Maybe ya’ll can help me persuade her to write more in the series 😉 Also for small towns and an awesome humor try Jade Buchanan. I can almost guarantee you a few chuckles! A lot of Jade’s stories are set in small towns, but here are a few that come to mind: Broken Silence, Black Wolf, Duck Fart, Hedgehog’s Delight.