As I’m wrapping up final changes to AS LONG AS THERE IS CHOCOLATE, in preparation for review readers next week, I decided to add an author’s note about some of the little details. I wanted to share it here.
Author’s Note About This Story . . .
Kate and Gio ruled the creation of AS LONG AS THERE IS CHOCOLATE. From the moment my fingers typed “Hey, lady!,” I knew Gio was an Italian-American deli owner who admired a chocolatier named Kate, but their surroundings were a bit of a blur at first. One would naturally think of these characters living in New York, New Jersey, or Philly, wouldn’t they?
Because I have no personal knowledge of big, northeastern cities—only what I’ve gathered from movies and TV—I set about finding a place for the story that was more within my scope of experience.
A defining school year of my youth waved its arms wildly to jog my memory.
After spending the first 11 years of my life in the Los Angeles area, I was temporarily transported to an alien, rural Colorado environment to endure seventh grade.
Until then, I’d never seen cattle guards or smiling strangers who waved as you drove by. I’d never seen a middle school with only eighty students or talked on a phone that had a party line. I hadn’t yet sat at an old-fashioned soda fountain in a drug store, and I’d never encountered such a high concentration of people with Italian surnames.
I learned that many of the Italian-American families in the area were descendants of homesteaders. (The concept of homesteaders and their descendants was amazing for me at eleven. It was like something straight out of a Laura Ingalls Wilder book!)
When contemplating where to locate ALATIC, I wondered if Italian homesteaders in Colorado were really a thing, or just something unique to the spot I’d lived in so many years ago.
As it turns out, apparently, they were definitely a thing.
A search led me to a document called “The Salida-Lago Connection: Pioneers from Lago to Salida,” which can be found at http://salidaarchive.info. It is a history of a large immigration to Salida, Colorado from one village: Lago, Calabria, Italy.
Today 7.5% of Salida’s population are descended from that group of immigrants, in a town with a makeup of 12.5% Italian surnames. The document has photos that show how similar the topography is between the two places. Salida must have felt like coming home to the Calabrians.
Considering these people and their lives brought about the creation of Castle Springs and its backstory.
Castle Springs is purely fictitious. However, there are parts and pieces of other Colorado towns I was compelled to include within. The name is a compilation of Castle Rock, New Castle, and Glenwood Springs.
A few details come from memories captured by me as an eleven-year-old and stored half a lifetime and are, therefore, not to be considered reliable. Other things about Castle Springs can be found in real-life Colorado.
- Somewhere between Salida and Aspen is a scenic overlook that has stone “teeth” as described in “The Devil’s Maw.”
- Since a mine explosion over 120 years ago, an underground fire has been burning beneath New Castle.
- Glenwood Springs has a beautiful, historic, hot springs-fed swimming pool, and caves with stalactites and stalagmites.
- On a farm outside of Silt, Colorado, sits an intriguing stone formation, much like “the fairy ring.” I know about it, because I spent a night there once when I was eleven.
- Castle Rock has, well, a rock, that looks like a castle, if you squint really hard.
- Decades before my years in Colorado, a reported murder/suicide took place in the Victorian farmhouse we saw in the distance from our land. My 11-year-old self knew there must be ghosts living there.
I’m glad the memory of that fateful nine months of my childhood in rural Colorado reared its persistent head. I couldn’t think of a happier place in the world for Kate and Gio to meet than Castle Springs.
There are more stories to tell about this little town. Marco & Alyssa, Sylvia & Henri, Nonna & her Giovanni, and others, all have things they still want to say.
And, of course, there are still unanswered questions about Tony and his treasures.
Be sure to look for these and other upcoming stories at http://tanalovett.com
AS LONG AS THERE IS CHOCOLATE is available on Amazon.