Summer of '76

If you have to be from somewhere …

The novel about Carensa Holt takes place around Europe, but even in the tiny peek on this website, it’s made clear that she is from Lancaster County, PA, and attends college at Kutztown State College (today: Kutztown University).

Everybody has to be from somewhere. While many Europeans think of the U.S. (or “America”) as one big thing with no variations, that is not reality. And that reality plays out even out on the road, backpacking. The Californians I met were different from the New Yorkers, who were different from the Georgians. I had a friend who could listen to an American talk for a few minutes and pick out what state they were from. Most of the time she was right too.

Back to Carensa. Somehow, placing her in Pennsylvania, and especially Lancaster County, gave her the mix of farm background, along with urban sensibilities, that I was looking for. Lancaster County is mere hours from the major cities on the East Coast by car or train. So it would not be out of line for her to be able to navigate around New York City without being scared of the big city hubbub (even if it is the New York of the 1970s).

When first starting to write the story, I experimented with some other hometowns for Carensa, but somehow none of them stuck, or seemed right for who she was turning out to be in the story.

Finally, when it comes down to it, Lancaster County is a very nice place to be from, with all the rolling farm land and the little villages dotting the landscape. I enjoy myself every time I have opportunity to visit there.

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