When I was a lowly undergrad at Western Kentucky University at Bowling Green, I took classes in the college’s folklore department. Yes, we had a folklore department. And it was awesome. I was able to take a class in supernatural folklore, which made the vein in my dad’s forehead stand out as he demanded, “When do you think you’re ever going to use a class in supernatural folklore?”
Well, since I write vampire and werewolf romance novels now, that would be every flipping day. Not that I bring that up to my dad very often. (Every flipping day!)
Anyway, while I was taking my folklore classes, I heard strange stories about an old tire store in town and how it used to be a concert hall where blues and country greats alike would play to standing room only crowds. But I never understood the scope of the Quonset Auditorium’s influence in local culture until a few years ago, when I saw “Rovers, Wrestlers and Stars,” Amber Ridington’s documentary on the subject. By the first commercial break, my husband turned to me and said, “You’ve got to find a way to fit that into a book somehow.”
So I came up with the story of one my favorite fictional employees of the Kentucky Commission on Tourism, historian Bonnie Turkle, who travels to the even more fictional Mud Creek, Kentucky to unearth musical artifacts from a long-closed music hall. And while the town’s mayor (who happens to be the grandson of the music hall’s proprietor) is charming and supportive at first, his priority is building a local economy-saving factory on the music hall lot – a priority Bonnie derails after she finds evidence of a legendary musical mystery at the hall and designates the spot as a protected historical site. Bonnie must find a way to compromise with Will to save their budding relationship, McBride’s and the town… so no pressure, then.
RHYTHM AND BLUEGRASS is riddled with references to my alma mater’s location. Ridington’s work helped me shape my own loosely based version of the Quonset Hut, which was demolished in 2003. (Please note the use of the word, “LOOSELY.”) The factory Will is trying to secure for Mud Creek belongs to an underwear manufacturer, much like the enormous Fruit of the Loom plant located in Bowling Green. And the storm that sweeps through town and destroys Bonnie’s temporary housing is based on an experience I had my sophomore year, when a tornado/hail storm flooded our college’s parking lots and took out power to our campus for almost a week. You haven’t bonded with your roommate until you try to toast Pop-Tarts over a candle.
I hope that the story gives readers some idea of how much enjoyed living in Bowling Green for four years. I also hope that readers realize that the citizens of Bowling Green are far more responsible than my crazy characters.
RHYTHM AND BLUEGRASS will be available Oct. 7 in print, ebook, and audiobook at all major retailers. For more information, go to www.mollyharper.com or singleundeadfemale.blogspot.com.
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