Setting inspiration for the novel Legacy Falls: Oliver H. Kelly Historical Farm, Anoka County, MN

I’ve been a bad blogger this week, but a good writer.

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There are still 10 days left of July, and I’ve blown past my month’s novel-writing goal of 90 hours. As of today, I have spent 101 hours doing hands-on-the-keyboard revision. For the last week, however, I’ve been starting to get a little crazy – the work was blurring and I couldn’t pull myself away from it. Yesterday, the heat wave we’ve been having broke, Ogre had the day off work, and I needed a break. I couldn’t really abandon the novel-writing headspace entirely, so I opted for a sort of working holiday.

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Every setting in my novel, Legacy Falls, is inspired by a real place, in or around the town of Anoka, Minnesota. The house where Lizzy, Will and the kids live (and where another family of spirits roam) is based on the Oliver H. Kelly Farm. I have take huge liberties with its location, size, floorplan … well, with just about everything. And I’m okay with that. Now that I’m in the revision draft, though, it’s time to get some half-remembered details right. 

***

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From chapter 1 of Legacy Falls:

Now, as she surveyed the area, she was surprised to find her sense of satisfaction waning. The cellar looked too empty, even barren.

Ought to be full, oughtn’t it? This late in the season.

Heat flushed Lizzy’s cheeks. Despite the chill, she felt sweat welling from her scalp and along her hairline. In the span of a blink, she imagined the room as it should be—the bins overflowing with potatoes and onions, the shelves lined with jars of pickles and preserves.

Apple butter. ‘Should be a dozen pints of apple butter put up by now.

With all this beautiful space at her disposal, why had she never taught herself to can the vegetables she grew in her gardens? Sure, she had been known to blanch and freeze a few Ziplocks full of green beans, but—

But this is just wasteful, idn’t?

A drop of perspiration ran down her temple and into the corner of her eye. When she raised a hand to rub the sting away, she realized her palms, too, were oily with sweat. Instinctively she moved to dry them on her apron … then stopped in mid-motion, with her hands hovering over her stomach. Of course she wasn’t wearing an apron. She hadn’t worn an apron since she was a kid, playing house.

Lizzy knuckled the salt from her eye, pressing hard enough to make phosphenes dance behind her lids. Dizziness flared, then turned into a surge of cold that flashed from her head, through her torso and along her arms. She reached for the counter to steady herself. For a second, she thought she had missed it, but then her fingertips caught the edge.

A small dust-devil—carrying more golden leaves than dust—tumbled down the short flight of wide steps from the yard. All but invisible, it whirled directly toward Lizzy, raised the hair from her sticky nape, then collapsed at her feet. A scent engulfed her, something warm and sharp and pungent. The earthy odor had a bracing effect and her knees steadied.

You should be resting in this heat. Think of the babe.

Apple butter? Apron? Babe? Where were these thoughts coming from? She coughed. Straightened. Wiped her hands down the thighs of her jeans. Still the scent clung to her. Out loud, she asked, “What is that smell?”

Manure, Schatz. Just good manure.

Lizzy stood still. She tried to believe the words had sounded not in her ears, but somewhere in her head. She listened to her own breathing until she heard a squeal and hiss from beyond the cellar door. The school bus had arrived.

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July 2013 WriMoProg: 101+ 54 = 156/145
[X + Y = Z / total-hours goal, where X = writing/editing time, Y= other writerly tasks.]

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10 Comments on “Setting inspiration for the novel Legacy Falls: Oliver H. Kelly Historical Farm, Anoka County, MN”

  1. angryscholar says:

    Very nice! There are interesting notes of Minnesota vernacular culture that are totally unfamiliar to me (which is a goo thing). Looking forward to reading more!

  2. Keep writing…I’m loving it already. I was taught: write what you know – whether it be an environment, topic, or character. I always write about a place I’ve been to, people I meet, or research the heck out of something I don’t know. I see you have also done your homework. Good job! I’d love to see the finished product.

    • Considering that my chosen genre, by its very nature, deals with the unlikely (even the impossible,) I think it’s important to get small, concrete details right. I’m at the part where I’m worrying over such things now. I foresee more field trips for me in coming weeks.

  3. Hunter Shea says:

    Love the pics and chapter 1 even more!

  4. Yes, anytime you write something set in the past you tend to overanalyze the tiniest of details. I started a story that begins in the 1870s and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out whether the gas street lamps in Portland at that time were lit by hand or came on automatically.

  5. […] Setting inspiration for the novel Legacy Falls: Oliver H. Kelly Historical Farm, Anoka County, MN (https://theparanormalist.wordpress.com) […]


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