My spouse grew up on a farm just outside a tiny, unincorporated Ohio village. Her grandparents had a home in the village. That’s where her mother grew up and where she spent a lot of time growing up herself. After we met, she lived with me in the Columbus metro area for several years but just over a year ago we bought a house in this little town and moved here. I based much of the local color in my book Relic on this little slice of heaven.
No, this village isn’t called ‘Morelville’. Morelville doesn’t actually exist. It’s a figment of my imagination that’s been set down in an area that I’m also quite familiar with a ways away from here. For the sake of better story settings, it’s fictitiously set in Muskingum County Ohio near the Blue Rock State Park and State Forest southeast of the small Ohio city of Zanesville and just east of the Muskingum River town of Philo, Ohio.
Around the village I actually live in, mushroom hunting for Morel mushrooms is a popular sport in the spring. The name ‘Morelville’ stems – pun intended – from the mushroom collecting hobby so many around here enjoy. That and a lot of the other activities depicted in book one and that will be depicted in book two are common throughout this area of Eastern Ohio in the foothills of Appalachia. Rodeos? We’ve got them. Hunting, quad riding, motocross, bee keeping, moonshining, oil drilling? Check! All done around here and much, much more. Amish? Yeah, they exist in a 5-7 county area en masse very near Muskingum county. Are they actually in the county? Not many but there are a few. I’ve extended their reach just a bit to add a little more local color. They played minor roles in book one. They’ll be a little more prominent in book three.
A lot of book two takes place in the limits of the city of Zanesville rather than in the village of Morelville. For the second installment, I use a lot of real city locations mixed with a few that are made up. The Hive restaurant, for example, really does not exist but the ‘Y’ bridge most certainly does as does Genesis Hospital, the Delong funeral Home (though its name is longer) and several other places. The Blue Rock State Forest also exists and there are oil drilling rigs all over eastern Ohio but the farms and rigs I say are near there are made up. If there are real farms and rigs in the area, it’s pure coincidence.
It’s fun to me to make up places for the action of my stories to take place but I do think that it’s important to give my readers some frame of reference that’s realistic.