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From time to time, people ask Bill Denton "How do writers come up with all of the people and places and things that fill the pages of their books?" So, Bill decided he would give you a little idea of one part of the process...

When I started putting together ideas for my second book, Surfer Girls, I decided to set it in Monticello, AR. That's where I lived when I was in high school, and the genesis of some of my characters came out of that wonderful small town.

I had some, let us say, unusual characters in mind, and since I didn't really relish the idea of getting sued by half of Monticello, I took some "literary liberties" and renamed it and moved it. So, "Monticello" became "Delta City", and I moved it a little bit south of Monticello's actual location.

Delta City ended up a little bit east of Crossett, AR, where Highway 425 and Highway 82 intersect. Of course, if a town the size of Delta City were to exist at that intersection, there wouldn't be any room for Crossett. And while I actually liked Crossett the few times I was there, there just wasn't enough room for it, so bye-bye Crossett, sorry 'bout that.

In the motion picture industry they call it "continuity". It involves keeping track of all of the little details in your narrative. For example, if a character has brown hair in a scene, you don't want them to be a blonde two minutes later.

Writers use different methods for keeping track of continuity, I keep a lot of different "notes" in various forms on my computer. Since I planned for Delta City to be an integral part of the Surfer Girls story, I created a "map", which you see above, to help keep the continuity straight.

I started with map of Monticello, AR, then renamed streets, moved things around, and gave my characters houses. I added and removed locations, and changed what was at specific locations. You can see from my hand-written notes how I did this, and the end result was an imaginary town that could fill the role of Delta City.

While Surfer Girls spans the years from 1965 to the present, Delta City is laid out pretty much the way Monticello was in about 1967.

There's an actual hamburger stand at the corner of what is now Highways 4 and 425 in Monticello, which has always held a special place in my heart. I worked there when I was in high school, and I take great pride that it was your humble writer who actually cooked the first hamburger ever sold there. I changed the name in order to pay direct homage to someone who is no longer with us; in Delta City it's "Mike's Restaurant".

The "University Club" was just across the highway to the south of the hamburger stand.

Monticello's square is there, along with a restaurant on the west side which is the center of many events in Surfer Girls. "Delta City Appliance World" is on the south side of the square while "Goth Central Station" is south of the square, on South Main Street across the railroad tracks; I lived in an apartment there.

As far as where the Surfer Girls lived, Nicole's house would be on South Main Street, just south of Monticello. Cairn's house would be a couple of blocks north of the square on North Main Street. Barbara's house would be out past the Monticello Country Club on Monticello's Highway 35.

Of course there are people in my fictional Delta City, I'm not going to tell you too much about them. When I read other writer's works I enjoy taking their character sketches and fleshing them out as I read. Hopefully I've told the Surfer Girls story well enough for you to be able to develop your own ideas of what they look like, how they dress, and how they live.

There are a lot of cops in Surfer Girls; if you took the names of the cops that were in Monticello in 1967 and threw them in a blender you might end up with the names of some of the cops in Delta City.

A few of the actual people in Monticello have supporting roles in Surfer Girls, although the names have been changed to protect the...well, you know!

As far as the women who are the Surfer Girls go, they are completely and totally fictional, and are really not like any women I knew in Monticello. For better or worse, a lot of women passed through your humble writer's life, and the characters in Surfer Girls are simply composites of some of them.

I don't want to give away the whole story (especially since I'm trying to sell it!), so I'll stop now. But should you choose to pick up Surfer Girls, and know Monticello, AR as it was in the late 60's, you might find it fun to try to pick out the "real" people and places in Monticello that became the people and places in my fictional "Delta City".

Have fun!

Bill Denton

Bill Denton's books are published by