My hometown of Wintersville, Ohio inspired Northern Knights’ setting. The village sits just west of neighboring Steubenville, Ohio, about forty miles west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
It’s the village I often refer to as the Lost Horizons due to its breathtaking scenery where views of the sunset are so epic they’ll give you goosebumps.
The village is also a gateway to the vast countryside, leading to tiny towns like Richmond, Ohio (population 471) just off State Route 152, close to my old high school of Edison, home of the Wildcats.
Fantasy scenery, too, as Northern Knights is just that; a new adult urban fantasy. Rolling hills, forested terrain, rivers, streams, as far as the eye can see.
Mythics, fantasy, that’s what I feel when I gaze over the treetops into the early morning fog, where Wintersville’s water tower and church steeple shine in the distance; jewels on the horizon, day and night.
Take a ride onto 22-East, which begins atop one of the largest hills in Jefferson County and you can see all of Weirton, West Virginia, just across the Ohio River, and Follansbee to the south.
An old history of old still mills dot the industrial region, but Wintersville epitomizes the fantastical portion of the once great Ohio River Valley in the Rust Belt.
Wintersville literally plays the part of Richfield, North Columbia in Northern Knights and I’m asked all the time why I chose such a small town in a forgotten valley.
Because it’s a small town in a forgotten valley, I reply. Why wouldn’t I try to bring the town into the limelight; the entire Valley back into its old glory days.
With the kind of scenery Wintersville possesses, the place is a prime candidate for any soul to fall in love with it as they stop off the highway at the local Kings during a long road trip, where one can get a nice overview of the hills and trees.
The place wears summer as well as it does winter, and a gaze into the water tower is a look into my own childhood, or recent memories of an amazing friend I spent a summer exercising with.
The town is truly special in such a sense.
Also in Northern Knights, real places in Wintersville are chronicled. Indian Creek High School plays the role of Cross Creek High School, and Kettlewell Stadium plays, well, itself. There really is a Kettlewell Stadium in Wintersville, and it’s where I spend half my own summer workouts.
The water tower is mentioned a few times, as it serves as the town’s center and it’s always been a dream to someday gaze at the scenery surrounding the village from it.
The Jefferson County Airpark, located outside Wintersville just off Fernwood Road is renamed Richfield Airpark.
Mare’s Pizza refers to a place called Giannamore’s Pizza, a pizza shop so popular people come all the way from Pittsburgh itself to eat. The average wait time after placing an order is ninety minutes, so order that pizza fast!
Note to Authors
Why should you go with a familiar location to serve as a primary setting?
For me, it helps us stick to our story.
We can stick to our plots, and we can engage our readers with the message we’re striving to relay to them.
It helps authors tell their story without having to deviate from their plot while writing. We don’t have to invent a new land or anything like it, but instead when we’re creating our setting we in a way, already have one.
We can describe what we feel necessary to describe and go straight into the story from there.
Now that you know what influenced me in my setting and in a previous article, some of my main characters. I’ll fill my readers on some real-life overtones that influenced my work, what influenced the name Columbia, and much, much more. We’re just scratching the surface here, to use the common cliche.
I hope you all can join me for the ride as I provide a more in-depth look at the entire Lord of Columbia Series.