Synchronicities are an interesting phenomena, I have to admit.
We stumble upon them when we least expect them. So, I had a moment of pure gratitude—so appropriate on this past Thanksgiving weekend—realizing that as we are all honoring the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, I am about to release the next iteration in the Dare Valley series, which is set right as President Kennedy takes office.
I was like, seriously? I didn’t plan this. I knew I needed to write the book for the beloved grandpa in my series, Arthur Hale. Readers wanted to see, including me, how the legend had started out, creating the hallowed newspaper, The Western Independent, which is actually based on my own family running a newspaper since 1892 when my great-great grandfather won his first newspaper in a poker game. When I created the characters in the series, Grandpa Hale is what I envisioned my great-great grandpa to be like: someone who crusades for justice, a leader in his community, and values family above all else.
And as a young man in 1960, Arthur is all that and more. THE TOWN SQUARE opens with him telling his great-grandkids about how he met their grandmother, Harriet. He describes the changes going on in the United States, anything from Civil Rights to the new war in Vietnam. And of course, President Kennedy’s New Frontier.
It was absolutely delightful to be in his point of view, wondering how President Kennedy would change the course of the country. Arthur has that sixth sense of most journalists, and he’s absolutely sure President Kennedy will be the harbinger of enormous change.
Little did he know.
I wasn’t born in the 60s, so it’s a history I’ve read about or heard people tell stories about. Yet, it’s captivating. The young, handsome president with such an incredible vision of unity and service.
The book ends well before President Kennedy was assassinated, but I got to wondering how devastated Arthur would have felt when the news came in on that fateful day. What he and Harriet would have done. How the people of Dare Valley, Colorado would have bonded together to mourn the loss of the president.
So this synchronicity is helping me see THE TOWN SQUARE in a new way, and I’m grateful. As a contemporary romance writer, I don’t set my books in the past—and this isn’t even really all that long ago compared to historicals set in the Regency era. I can talk to people I know who lived through that time and hear what they remember.
I wonder what readers will remember as they read THE TOWN SQUARE. Will they recall the party lines and how far we’ve come with cell phones? Will they be nostalgic over the incredible fashion women enjoyed, wearing gloves and hats? Or will they remember what it was like to date in a small town like Arthur and Harriet experience?
Mad Men captivated the country, chronicling that era, for good reason. It’s fascinating.
So, what do you think of when you think about the 1960s?
About the Author:
Ava is a member of the Romance Writers of America and Washington Romance Writers. She is also part of an unofficial group that regularly convenes a writing retreat at Nora Roberts’ restored Inn Boonsboro in western Maryland. Having left behind the “day job,” which took her, literally, all over the world, she now writes full-time in the peace and quiet of her northern Virginia porch-swinging-friendly community.