Bellingwood is located (in my imagination only) in central Iowa, right in the middle of some of the most beautiful farm land available. Deep, black, rich dirt is uncovered every fall when the farmers harvest their crops and turn their fields. There is a corner that I drive past on a regular basis and sometimes in the early morning, when fog is lifting from the earth, I can almost see the homes and buildings on the horizon. Someday I’d like to find the farmer who owns the land that I’ve appropriated and tell him that people around the world envision a lively community in the middle of his fields.
The people of Bellingwood are an outgrowth of the many people I’ve known throughout my life. I believe if you look for good people, you find them. They are everywhere and though their goodness might hide under a gruff exterior, it is still there.
I grew up in quite a few small rural communities in Iowa. As a United Methodist minister’s family, we moved every four or five years to a new town and I met new people … wonderful people. Men and women who worked hard to make a good living. I played and learned with their kids, who were as normal as any could be. These people moved in and out of each other’s lives, creating stories and experiences that pour out as I introduce new characters.
Many will never understand the draw of small-town, rural America. I don’t know that I truly understood when I lived there. After living in a city for most of my adult life, I discovered that though everyone knows your secrets, you also find safety and joy with people who know you well and still love you.
Small towns may not be perfectly idyllic, but they are as close as I’m ever going to get in my life on earth.
Map of Bellingwood (Click to make bigger).
Bellingwood Bodies in Boone County
Sycamore House & Inn (Sketches)
Old empty school buildings exist in communities all around us. I would love to be able to restore, renew, renovate, and re-purpose these buildings, bringing vitality and life back into the community from them. There was an old building in Luther, Iowa that captured my imagination, though it was torn down several years ago and a porta-potty warehouse was built in its place. It was the inspiration for Sycamore House, though I took great liberties with its structure in my books.
Click on each image to see it enlarged.
Sycamore House – Level 1
The Bell House (Sketches)
Polly and Henry, et al, are in the middle of renovating yet another classic Bellingwood building – this time a huge old hotel that they’re turning into a home. By “All I Want for Christmas” – Bellingwood #16.5, they’re mostly living in the building, though there is still much ahead of them.
By #17 – Marks in a Lifetime, they are working hard at renovating the north side of the second level. So much yet to do.
Click on an image to make it bigger. (one square is four square feet)