Please join us in welcoming author Pat Henshaw today, on the tour for the latest installment in the Foothills Pride series, Relative Best.
Building a Town
In 2014 when I started writing What’s in a Name?, the first book in the Foothills Pride series, I created a frontier saloon that had been refurbished over the years to become the central drinking establishment in a town I named Stone Acres and placed in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California.
I named the saloon Stonewall because even though the riots hadn’t happened in the late 1800s when the saloon was built, the bar caters to a large gay clientele, so it seemed only right to acknowledge one of gay history’s landmark events.
One of the fun parts of writing as far as I’m concerned is creating something concrete from memories. I fashioned Stonewall Saloon from bits and pieces of the Menger Hotel Bar in San Antonio and Al the Wop’s in Locke, California. It features details from places where I’ve spent hours and bars I’ve just walked through.
I knew the town needed an eating place where the locals could get a steak dinner, so I added Tommy Thompson’s Original Steakhouse down the block from the saloon. Tommy’s was the epitome of the old time bottle club restaurant where the town’s self-appointed leaders met and socialized since Stone Acres didn’t have a country club.
I thought at the time after I sent in the story that my time in Stone Acres was finished. But then I got another idea for a story set in the town, Redesigning Max. Suddenly, I was forced to add more buildings to the town—most notably a coffee shop in an abandoned bank building where the story begins.
Now my Old Town had two blocks to it, or maybe one and a half blocks since I didn’t know what happened on the other end of the block with the coffee shop on it. But I’d driven down my fair share of old frontier town streets and seen their wooden sidewalks and the tight proximity of the buildings. So if had to, I could easily fill in the blanks.
When I began writing Behr Facts, number three in the series, I fleshed out the rest of the block where the coffee shop is located. I gave the main character, Abe Behr, an office upstairs over a gift shop. And I added another empty building to round out that block.
It was a slam dunk then after When Adam Fell popped into my head. I had an empty building that just cried out to be refurbished into a gourmet restaurant and apartment.
At that point, I realized I had a problem. I suddenly had a town that my editor Erika could remember better than I could. I had to make myself a map so that I could remember where everything was located. The map, I realized, should include more than three blocks organized in an L-shape.
Not being savvy on any architectural drafting programs, I sat down with a legal pad and hand-sketched the town. Perfect. Now I had a point of reference and could actually write sentences like, “He walked three doors down the block to the saloon,” and be fairly confident that the saloon was actually there.
Then my editor asked for a copy of the map. Now what was I supposed to do? Without drafting experience I had only one solution. I knew I could draw squares and rectangles and circles with Microsoft Word, so I sat down with my much erased legal sheet and drew the Stone Acres Old Town map.
Drawing the map was pretty simple. Fitting the words into the rectangles, not so much. But I got it done and opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the Foothills Pride Stories series.
The latest book, Relative Best, centers around Bandy’s Finest Hotel which shares an alleyway with Stonewall Saloon. Short Order, book number six coming in December 2016/January 2017, explores the Blue Cottage near City Park and the library.
And I’m currently writing The Right Sort, which surrounds the trials and tribulations of genial, good-natured hardware store owner Frank McCord.
What’s interesting is that after seven books, the fictional town is still changing and evolving just like a town in real life. The steakhouse has closed and a new owner is ready to come in and drag it into new life. I’ve planned an art gallery which Fredi Zimmer, the main character in Redesigning Max, is excited to see. And the old Limelight Bar has folded and is given a new name and purpose.
I have ideas for almost all of the buildings on my once hand-drawn map. Is there a building you’d like to know about? If so, please leave a message or contact me. I’m always open for suggestions.
About the Book
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Series: Foothills Pride
Length: 80 Pages
Release Date: 17 August 2016
Purchase Links: DSP || Amazon || Kobo || B&N || ARe || Google Play
Blurb: Sometimes love sneaks up when you’re least looking for it….
Zeke Bandy, owner of Bandy’s Finest Hotel in Old Town Stone Acres, California, is too busy for love. Not only does he oversee the operations of the historic hotel and uphold his family’s tradition of offering refuge to strays and runaways, Zeke also sings and plays down-home music two nights a week at the Stonewall Saloon and for occasional celebrations. Then Zeke meets Victor Longbow, the man of his dreams.
Vic isn’t looking for love either. In fact, because of his upbringing in a strict, white foster family, Vic’s not sure he believes in love. He’s in Stone Acres to open a branch office of a national brokerage firm. He’s also hoping to find a vintage photo of what might be his Native American ancestor.
After their paths cross, they become friends, then more. Connected by their experiences as orphans raised by flawed fathers, Zeke and Vic realize that some men must find love, hone it, and create families for themselves.
About the Author
Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, was born and raised in Nebraska where she promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.
Now retired, Pat has spent her life surrounded by words: Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.
Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Fortunately, her incredibly supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.