World Building--It's not Just for Fantasy Writers Anymore

Ok, the world of my story does not have three moons. There are no vampires, werewolves, or demons of any variety. There is no dragon named Smaug or troop of dwarves singing as they tromp through a spooky woods.

But the special world of my story does have its own unique rules and I still need to world build. You see, there is no real Coldwater, Oklahoma--the setting for Sunday is for Suspects. I placed my fictional town in the southeastern part of Oklahoma for a couple of reasons. First, it's lovely, isn't it? It's full of hills and hollows and streams that clatter over the rocky bones of that little slice of the Ozarks.

Secondly, I intend to enter this novel in the Tony Hillerman/St. Martin's competition for the best first mystery. One of the requirements is that the story be set in a southwestern state. Oklahoma is on the list.

Mercenary, I know, but there it is. My goal is publication and this would be a great start.

So how do you build a whole town? I borrow details from all the little towns I've loved in real life and combine them to form  Coldwater. I've given this town an incorporation date of 1859, pre-Civil War. That will give it some historical grounding and a chance to have some extant Victorian era architecture. The little jewel of a courthouse and square in Chapter 1 is a case in point. When my heroine Lacy Evans looks for a place to live, she finds a loft space above one of the old red brick buildings that make up the town square. Her kitchen has a pressed tin ceiling circa 1890. Charming.

Unfortunately the plumbing is not too much newer than that either.

I've decided to name the high school athletic teams the "Fighting Marmots." Not only is it slightly ridiculous, choosing a glorified ground squirrel fits in with the running gag of Mr. Evans' perpetual war with the squirrels in his front yard.

Worldbuilding is all about choosing details. So far, it's been great fun!

What favorite novel of yours creates such a compelling fictional world you long to travel there in real life?