We don’t know about you, but we love a small-town setting. Charming main streets, friendly neighbors and cute boutiques reign supreme as the hot hero sweeps our leading lady off her feet. We all want to live there — but where, exactly, is there? Author Cindy Kirk road tripped to Door County, Wisconsin, to research her contemporary romance Christmas In Good Hope, available now. Take it away, Cindy, we want to hear everything!
A couple of years ago, I found myself searching for a location for a small-town series. I had a good handle on the characters, I just wasn’t sure where they should live. As a lifelong Midwesterner, I hoped to find the perfect spot somewhere in the middle of the country.
I wanted a town like the fictional Grandview from Ghost Whisperer, something quaint and picturesque. When I read an article that said Fodor’s had named Door County, Wisconsin, to its list of 10 Best Small Towns in America, I felt a stir of excitement.
According to Fodor’s, the Door County peninsula isn’t really one small town, but an entire county of charming, notable small towns. When my research showed the entire peninsula’s population was under 30,000, I had to contain my rising hope that I’d found the perfect spot to set my Good Hope series.
I arrived in Door County on a lovely spring day and drove past endless acres of cherry trees in bloom. So far, so good. I kept driving, determined to see the entire length of the peninsula (about 70 miles) from Sturgeon Bay at its base to Northport at the far tip. A stop midway at the Visitor’s Center in Egg Harbor netted a whole slew of pamphlets and information. I learned that red tart cherries were the premier crop of the peninsula, which led me to dub The Women’s Events League in my Good Hope series “The Cherries.” I have these group of women planning all the holiday events for my fictional town of Good Hope.
I had a lot of questions for everyone I met. I thought I was simply asking the type of questions that any tourist would ask, but realized that must not have been the case when the woman at the visitor’s center asked if I was writing a book! I received this same question from the proprietress at the motel where I stayed. Everyone was eager to help.
I experienced the local flavor by attending a fish boil, a tradition that has been going on in the area for 150 years. If you’ve never seen one, it’s worth your time. Whitefish, potatoes and onions are dumped into a kettle over a fire. A half hour later, the boil master tosses a can of oil under the boiling cauldron. Flames shoot high in the air. It’s a real crowd-pleaser.
Eating the White Gull Inn’s Cherry-Stuffed French Toast—a Good Morning America “Best Breakfast” finalist—was another not-to-be missed experience.
It didn’t take me long to realize that this was where I wanted to set my book. I decided to model Good Hope after picturesque Fish Creek, though my town contains elements of the other communities on the peninsula as well.
When it came time to leave Door County, I realized that while this may have been my first trip, it wouldn’t be my last.