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Friday, February 26, 2016

My Favorite Place-Ardon, South Carolina

By Linda Lovely

I love Ardon, South Carolina. It’s the home of the soon-to-be famous Butt-R-Cheese Goat Farm and Abby’s Deli…the fancy Sunrise Ridge enclave and Boughton Bail Bonds… the Hog Heaven biker bar and Dee’s Bakery.

Will you find Ardon, South Carolina, on any map? No. But it’s firmly lodged in my mind. Any time I
choose I can picture its quaint town square, its rolling hills and sparkling streams, its white stucco courthouse, and its tidy farms.

Since I began writing novels, my favorite place is always the location of my current work-in-progress. Last year, Keokuk, Iowa, my hometown, held that honor. Of course, it wasn’t the town of my childhood. Rather it was a 1938-vintage Mississippi River town, exactly the setting I needed for LIES, my historical romantic suspense novel.

This year Ardon has my full attention and affection. For starters, everything in my imaginary South Carolina town and county is exactly where I need it to be. Even better, the farms, banks, delis, nail salons, and bakeries will never move or go out of business or relocate. That’s very convenient when an author is writing the first novel in what she hopes will be a humorous mystery series featuring a twenty-four-year-old vegan chef who’s helping her colorful aunt manage the Butt-R-Cheese Goat Farm.

This is the fifth novel I’ve penned, and it’s the third book I’ve set in a fictional location. My first, DEAR KILLER, takes place on Dear Island, just outside Beaufort, South Carolina, and my fourth novel, DEAD HUNT, is set in Shelby, not far from Greenville, South Carolina.
See a common thread? I’ve lived in the South Carolina Upstate for 15 years—near Greenville and Clemson—and I lived in the South Carolina Lowcountry near Beaufort for 12 years. While Dear Island, Shelby, and now Ardon are fictional settings, they happen to sit adjacent to real South Carolina locations I know and love.

For example, in Ardon County, you can see Clemson University’s Death Valley football station and the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Butt-R-Cheese Goat Farm’s hilltops. Asheville, North Carolina, and Greenville, South Carolina, are easy drives. Ardon’s weather takes after Seneca, South Carolina’s mild climate. Its gardens are populated with dogwoods and azaelas. Tall, straight pines march down its hills. The scent of gardenias and tea olives perfume the air. Plump blueberries and heirloom tomatoes vie for attention at Ardon’s farmer’s markets. Mom-and-pop businesses thrive alongside the handful of big box stores. Jackets and umbrellas in bright shades of orange and purple—Clemson University’s colors—brighten downtown streets on any rainy day.

So what’s so great about Ardon? True, it lets me create my own custom Monopoly board with hotels and boardwalks wherever I want. It also allows me to incorporate all of South Carolina’s natural beauty into my landscapes. I can see, touch, and smell Ardon eve if its geography isn’t captured on any map.

I sure hope when my series debuts you’ll pay a visit to Ardon. I promise the people are as interesting as the terrain. 
 

8 comments:

Ashantay said...

Your farmer's market descriptions make me salivate! I want to visit Ardon to pick up some plump tomatoes! Buy some fresh goat cheese, and maybe sip a little peach moonshine. So get that book completed, pronto!

Polly Iyer said...

I'm sure some South Carolinians will say you're writing about their town, except for the specific names of the places in your book. The premise for this new series sounds like fun, and you should know about being a vegan chef. Best of luck with it, Linda.

Linda Lovely said...

Thanks, Ashantay and Polly. I needed to write something FUN. And I'm having plenty of fun with this book. Have my fingers crossed that readers will be able to visit Ardon by the end of 2016.

Diana McCollum said...

Oh, I can picture Ardon from your description! Great blog! I agree made up locations are really, really fun to write.

Sarah Raplee said...

Can't wait to read your new series! your descriptions really draw me into the fictional landscape!

Linda Lovely said...

Thanks, Sarah and Diana. All my fictional landscapes are inspired by real-life encounters. The South Carolina Upstate is truly beautiful.

Sarah Raplee said...

I forgot to mention that I lived in North Carolina for 6 mos. a long time ago, Never made it to South Carolina, but now I want to visit someday. My parents married on Parris Island, SC right after WWII.

Judith Ashley said...

I'm more like you, Linda, in that my stories take place in fictional places that are similar to where I've been/lived. For me it's comforting to know the deli a few blocks away will always be there whenever one of my characters needs to pick up some cheeses, salads or sandwiches. How did you come up with the name Ardon?