There was a time in my childhood when I stumbled into the world of soap operas. I loved the angst, romance, and the evil twins! But one detail really caught my attention. There were catacombs beneath General Hospital! What?! Even at nine years old I understood that catacombs weren’t exactly common, but that didn’t matter. Since Port Charles was a fictional city, all the writers had to say was, “Let there be catacombs,” and there were.
When I decided to set my new series in a fictional Colorado town, I didn’t realize how much fun I would have. Picture creating a world with every cool thing you could imagine!
Now, I didn’t go crazy. I still needed my town to be somewhat realistic so I based all of Whisper Canyon’s eccentricities on other cities and towns in the west. Here are some of the TRUE places and stories that inspired my town in Aspen Crossroads:
There’s nothing like a good old feud to liven up a town! Take it from me—my brother-in-law is a Hatfield. Luckily, my sister is not a McCoy. In my series, the canyon was discovered by Alva Haviland who fled the south after he burned down a pro-slavery newspaper office, leaving behind a heartbroken fiancée. To avenge her heartache, her uncle Prescott Garrison chased Alva across the prairie and into the mountains. When he laid eyes on Whisper Canyon, he saw the potential for wealth and took more than his fair share of land. The Haviland/Garrison feud has been brewing ever since, nearly destroying the town in the process.
Three hours west of Denver, the quaint mountain town of Glenwood Springs hosts tourists looking for both relaxation in their natural hot springs and adventure in their caverns. Aren’t caverns amazing? There’s something magical about seeing the awe-inspiring tunnels and caves while knowing you could die any minute, am I right? Talk about angst!! This is why in Aspen Crossroads, Haven and Jace go spelunking in Whisper Canyon Caverns, where they are forced to confront their fears and their feelings for each other.
My favorite restaurant west of the Mississippi is in a little tourist town known for river tubing. The town is Gruene, Texas, and the restaurant is The Gristmill. An 1878 water-powered mill was turned into a restaurant ninety-nine years after it first opened. The food ranges from casual lunches to the delicious peppercorn steak that I’ve been craving since I moved from Texas fifteen years ago. And because you can eat outside overlooking the Guadalupe River, in the beer garden, or on one of three floors inside the restaurant, every dining experience feels new. It’s simply cinematic. So when I needed to give my characters a new life (after being rescued from sex work), I created a mill-to-restaurant renovation that these women could be proud of!
What good is a town without a local legend? In Whisper Canyon, that legend is Ol’ Six Claw, a bear with, you guessed it, six claws on one paw. His ghostly form has been spotted in the canyon for more than one hundred and fifty years, and it’s believed he started the fire that turned Whisper Canyon into a ghost town in 1885. This troublesome bear was inspired by West Yellowstone, Montana’s Snaggletooth—a grizzly bear that was known to forage in the town dump in the 60s and 70s and is now stuffed and on display in the town’s museum.
Now that you know a little bit about the making of Whisper Canyon, I’d love for you to visit by picking up the first book in the series, Aspen Crossroads.
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GIVEAWAY: It’s your turn! If you were to create a town, what would you be inspired to include? One commenter will win a Love Wander Read sweatshirt from my new LWR Apparel collection. Winner to choose size and color. Winner must be 18 and, due to shipping costs, must have a US mailing address. Contest runs October 1-4th. Winner will be notified by email.
Bio: Prone to wander, Janine Rosche finds as much comfort on the open road as she does at home. This longing to chase adventure, behold splendor, and experience redemption is woven into her Madison River Romance and Whisper Canyon series. When she isn’t writing or traveling, she teaches family life education courses to college students, takes too many pictures of her sleeping dogs, and embarrasses her four children and husband with boy band serenades. Her latest story, Dreams in Toyland, can be found in the Christmas in Mistletoe Square novella collection, available now. http://www.janinerosche.com