Small-Town, Minnesota—Setting for My Novel


Northfield, Minnesota
Northfield, Minnesota

Northfield, Minnesota is the town that inspired the setting for my novel, Fifty Days to Sunrise. Northfield is the home of St. Olaf College, Carleton College, and the bank building bearing Jesse James’s bullet holes. And my home from age nearly zero to three.

Life was good in Northfield, and my family visited friends there frequently after we moved to the Twin Cities. We were one of the families in my story hanging around the falls at Nerstrand Woods (Sjostrand Woods, in the book): tramping the trails, kids vying for being the lead dog on the hike.

Whether or not to write the setting in the real Northfield was a dilemma quickly solved when I realized that if I messed up, even a detail or two, someone might notice. Then my credibility as author would be questioned. Very distracting to the reader.

The above photo of the bridge over the Cannon River in Northfield might be the spot where Lissa stands overlooking the Dakota River in fictitious Gifford.

So the setting for Fifty Days to Sunrise is my homage to Northfield: people, places, what was, what might have been.

What locale from your childhood would make a good setting for a novel? Why?


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