Little Secret: I can’t start a new book until I have several things in place. First, I need a main character with a name that’s the perfect fit, then I focus on an inciting incident that will spin the character’s life in a new direction, which brings me to an ensuing want/need/desire to help drive the plot forward. Through all of the action, I need a killer setting where all of this will take place.
My first novel, THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES, was inspired by an interview I caught on Oprah, the story of Shawn Hornbeck, who was kidnapped at the age of eleven and returned to his family when he was fifteen. My second novel, ONE MOMENT, was inspired by a heartbreak I suffered when I was in my early twenties, facing the loss of my soon-to-be-stepbrother after a tragic accident took his young life. My third novel, A MILLION TIMES GOODNIGHT, was inspired by several things, but the first, most important driving factor was the setting.
The Witches’ Tower is a pivotal setting throughout the entire book, creating atmosphere and tone, providing an out-of-the-way place for some major action to go down. The coolest thing about The Witches’ Tower? It actually exists. In spite of its many nicknames, The Witches’ Tower is formally known as Patterson Tower, and is located in Kettering, Ohio. The stone tower overlooks Dayton’s Community Golf Course and is the inspiration for many local legends and ghost stories.
One of the coolest moments I had while researching the location took place when I was visiting a novel writing class at Wright State University. An older gentleman in the class raised his hand and confirmed the tragic story of a teenaged girl who had taken shelter in the tower during a powerful storm back in the 1960’s. She leaned against the metal railing that spiraled up to the top of the tower, only to be electrocuted when a streak of lightning hit. I’d found mention of this death on several sites, but didn’t count the event as confirmed until this man shared the story of his childhood–he vividly remembered the story on the front page of the papers he delivered the week of her death. This knowledge only deepened my affection for the character of Penny, a girl I created in my mind who also lost her life at the tower. It’s an eerie place with quite a history, which made The Witches’ Tower the perfect setting to include in A MILLION TIMES GOODNIGHT.