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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Marketing My Kansas-based Fiction

I lived a year in Italy. I lived 18 months in Japan. Yet almost all my fiction is set in Kansas, the state where I was born and lived so many of my years. Some of these mention Kansas; many don't. I tried to write pieces set in Italy and in Japan. Didn't work. Too forced; too faked.

Thought it time to market Kansas-based stories. Even if you're not from the Land of Oz, you might find these 12 works interesting.

At age 14, I went to work as a male candy striper at St. Joseph's Memorial Hospital in Larned, Ks. I learned many things. The ten stories in Hospital Days resulted.

Living on the grounds of the insane asylum at Larned State Hospital because my father was the mental institute's dentist gave me many unusual experiences. Blue Kansas Sky was a first attempt to create a story based on that background.

Innocent Passage opens with the line: "The skies were cloudy all day," which should immediately connect with any Kansan who knows the state song. Don't know anymore how many non-Kansans are familiar with Home on the Range. The short story continues the description of the Kansas land and the surprises it can contain.

The Saltness of Time depends upon Kansas winter weather to set its scene. And what a scene unfolds as the stories within stories get told.

Crazy About You was a novel that resulted from trying to recreate the environment and characters at Larned State Hospital. It's young adult; it's a mystery; it's suspense. It's my best seller.

One More Victim doesn't mention Kansas by name, but a tornado, or rather the memory of one, gets things started. Took me 30 years to finish this novella.

The Notebook, likewise, doesn't mention Kansas, but the university town sure could be Lawrence.

Speaking of Lawrence, my two Phillip McGuire suspense novels (Tortured Truths and Heart Chants) are both mostly set in Lawrence because that burnt out foreign correspondent returns to his university town to own and run a bar where adventures come his way.

I went to the University of Kansas during those turbulent 1960s and was there that spring of 1970 when the night curfew was enforced by the National Guard. Student union burned. Students were shot and killed. Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All is my fictional recreation of those times.

My dystopia, Rabbletown:Life in These United Christian States of Holy America is largely set in Topeka. Don't miss Stoning Fridays in Fred Phelps Plaza.

Blow Up the Roses, a very dark suspense novel, was inspired by horrific events that occurred when I was managing editor of The Olathe (KS) Daily News.

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