Hey, Norm! (aka living in a small town)

My friend Stacey was in town this week, and her reaction when I described my favorite coffee shop, which I visit daily, was “So you walk in and it’s all ‘Hey, Norm!’?” It’s an analogy I hadn’t thought of, but it’s spot-on. That community is one of the things I love about small towns. Sometimes, it really seems like everybody *does* know your name.

I see it in my hometown, though it’s grown over the years and doesn’t fit any classic definition of a small town. But wandering around at the downtown association’s Strawberry Stroll last month, seeing high school classmates, family friends and others, reminded me how much of a small town it really is.

And I see it in my current town, when I walk to work and know most people I run into. Or when the various segments of my life cross and overlap in ways I never expected. A year or two ago, a coworker new to town and I realized we had connections through three or four different parts of our lives. That community, that connection, is what I love about small towns. It’s why I’ve had Exeter in my brain almost as long as Ellie’s existed there, why all the stories I’m working on connect and interweave. The town is setting, but it’s also a character of sorts in the series. That richness of small towns, the complex fabric of relationships and history, of grudges and good deeds, provides a great base for compelling storytelling.