Today I’m discussing the setting for my novel, The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee. First of all, the definition of setting… Setting includes the environment and surroundings of a story. From A. A. Milne’s 100 Acre Woods to Henry’s hospital bed in Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, the setting includes the landscape and time period as well as items on the kitchen counter.
The setting for my book is rural Mississippi County, Arkansas, the place I grew up. In my story, not only does the setting provides background information and paint a picture of the place, but the setting is integral to the story, affecting tone and mood. At least I hope you’ll find that to be true.
The central town in my story is Savage Crossing. According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Savage Crossing was a small settlement with a railroad depot, named after the county’s untamed nature as the timber industry was first established. You won’t find Savage Crossing on any modern day map of Northeast Arkansas because the town’s name was changed to Keiser in the early twentieth century, named after John Keiser, a friend of Mr. Lee Wilson.
The Savage Crossing in Accidental Salvation is inspired by a blend of Keiser and nearby Osceola in the 1970s. For simplicity, I only needed one town in my book. Local folks will recognize landmarks from both towns. Sorry people of Osceola, the school mascot is the Yellow Jackets.
Of course it is.
The Mississippi River plays a minor character in the story, like a member of the crowd scene in a movie. How can he not be? Ole Man River is an integral part of commerce for the area, and like everyone in the county, Gracie Lee is in awe of his power. Although she’s too young to grasp his importance, she never misses out on a chance to watch his muddy water roil by.
Memphis represents life beyond the farm. The big city. Sophisticated careers. It’s the place Gracie Lee and her family go for anything important such as hospital stays, Christmas shopping, and treks to possibly-hopefully-please-God-let-us-glimpse Elvis.
Southern author Eudora Welty said, “One place understood helps us understand all places better.”
The setting for The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee is my one place understood.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
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Sweet Southern Comfort, Buddy Jewell