Why did I pick Knoxville as the setting for my debut novel, Curse Me Not? Easy. The town is big enough to have everything from an opera company to a paint ball club, yet it’s small enough neighbors know neighbors and people actually go downtown to see a movie—or have a martini.
In a way, Knoxville is an undiscovered “B-list” city much like comedian Kathy Griffith touts herself as a B-list celebrity. (By the way, I saw Kathy in concert in—where else?—downtown Knoxville.)
Here’s how I describe the town in my book:
With a metropolitan population close to two hundred thousand, Knoxville is not what most people envision when they picture an east Tennessee town in the foothills of the Smokies.
Oh, sure, Knoxville has its country and western bars, lots of mom and pop restaurants serving only artery-clogging food and some of the best pot grown in the country. But Knoxville also has New York style martini bars, upscale boutiques where I can’t afford to buy a thing and A-list gays living next door to Baptist preachers. The area also has more scientists per square mile than hillbillies, thanks to the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Shoot. If a town could have split personality disorder, it’d be Knoxville. One minute residents are grumbling over southern stereotyping and the next, they’re bedazzling a pair of overalls to wear to Dollywood over the weekend. After all, what town could produce Quentin Tarantino, Kenny Chesney and Mountain Dew and not be half off its rocker?
When one of my beta readers first read that description (thanks, Jen!), she said it fit the town to a tee. I hope so, being half off my rocker too.