In my new novel Dawn Over Dayfield, main characters Andy Forrestt and Weston Thibeault uncover some of a small town’s secrets, ones that have been hidden for decades. And in the process, they’re faced with sabotage and even attempted murder as some of the town’s older residents try to keep the truth buried.
When I first set out to write Dawn Over Dayfield, I envisioned it as a romance in which Andy, in search of genealogical information about his family, met Weston, a small-town historical librarian, and attraction and love ensued. Clearly that is not what I ended up with. Far from it, in fact.
The story was inspired by a then-friend of mine who talked quite a bit about his experiences researching his family’s history, which he’d compiled into a book. In his case, his research was done purely to satisfy his curiosity about his background. When I decided to make the characters in my book a librarian and someone doing research, I didn’t think curiosity was enough of a motivation. In real life, sure, but not so much in fiction. So I decided to make Andy adopted, trying to find out about his birth family.
As I kept brainstorming the idea and bouncing ideas around with my friend, the town of Dayfield itself took form, and that was when the story concept shifted. I was somewhat familiar with the part of Massachusetts where I chose to set Dayfield, and especially with the aftermath of the 2011 tornado, from which, nearly five years later at this point, some people have still been unable to rebuild. My friend knew even more about the area and the economic ups and downs, having spent his childhood and teen years there including working during high school and college in a factory in the area, as had his parents and at least one grandparent.
After talking with him about life in that area, I created the Chaffee Furniture Factory as part of Dayfield, a part that had once brought prosperity to the town but then had contributed to its decimation. And then I had my story: What if Andy was a descendent of the Chaffee family? What if people in town held the factory closing against him even though he was an infant when it happened?
What if Weston’s family was somehow connected to the factory as well? Having lived in Dayfield for generations, they had to have worked at the factory. That led to building the connections between the Chaffees and the Thibeaults—and then, as I started writing, I realized that members of those families had died under suspicious circumstances. Because sometimes even the author doesn’t know what’s going to happen in a story until it happens.
Once that happened, I no longer had a happy romance between an amateur genealogist and a historical librarian. I had murders, cover-ups, two men who seemed in some ways fated to be together because of the connections between their ancestors—and who face the possibility of being murdered themselves so the secrets don’t come out. There wasn’t a whole lot of room for a relationship to develop under those circumstances!
And so I ended up with Dawn Over Dayfield, my first mystery/suspense novel, and was fortunate enough to find a publisher in DSP Publications.
Karenna Colcroft is the alter ego of a shy, sedate wife and mother who began writing romance in 2006 after a friend challenged her. Her first book was published in 2009. Karenna lives in the northeastern United States with her real-life romance hero husband, her two offspring, and three cats. Find out more about her and her books on her website; like her on Facebook; or follow her on Twitter or Tumblr.