Dave Fuerst with the National Park Service did a fantastic job of sharing history along with the magic of Thurmond, WV.

One of the challenges of being an author is promoting one book while writing another. And often planning a third. I’m in that place right now with The Christmas Heirloom currently out while I’m writing When Silence Sings (releasing Fall 2019) and toying with ideas for a novel to release in 2020.


And while I really hope you’ll go out and buy The Christmas Heirloom for your holiday gift giving, my heart is SO wrapped up in next year’s story. This is the first time I’ve written a story set in a REAL place and last week I got a deluxe, guided tour of that very place.

Thurmond, West Virginia.

The cool thing about Thurmond is that it’s a ghost town. There are currently something like seven full-time residents of this town that at the turn of the twentieth century saw more coal come through by rail than Cincinnati or Richmond.

The town is now owned by the National Park Service and Dave Fuerst, cultural resource specialist, took time out of his day to give me a guided tour. Here are a few highlights (e.g. teasers for my next novel).

  • I got to stand in a store room from the Dun Glen Hotel–a notorious establishment that helped Thurmond earn the nickname, “Dodge City of the East.” A key scene is set in this very space which is all that’s left after a 1930 fire.
  • I peered in the windows of the Thurmond Union Church–my hero preaches a funeral here.Union Church
  • I stood outside the Thurmond National Bank. Oh, something terrible happens here when my heroine goes in to conduct business.

Dave asked if it was helpful for me to see everything he so graciously showed me. I told him it was like stepping into the pages of my story. As if I didn’t already tend to forget my characters aren’t real!

I walked around houses that were THERE when my characters roamed the town in 1930. I saw the same views. I walked through the depot and crossed the railroad tracks. It was fantastic.

In the past I’ve shied away from writing stories set in “real” places. After visiting Thurmond, I think I’m sold on getting to visit the settings for my stories.