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Why did I pick Knoxville, Tennessee, as the setting for my debut novel, Curse Me Not? Easy. The town is big enough to have everything from an opera company to a paint ball club, yet it’s small enough for neighbors know neighbors and people to actually go downtown to see a movie or have a martini. It was perfect for my main character, an Appalachian unsophisticate who's recently gained the ability to see auras and the more lucrative ability to clean revenge curses from those auras. She needed a good-sized town (but not a big city) in which to learn a little sophistication-and a few lessons about life.

In a way, Knoxville is an undiscovered “A-list” city. Here’s how I describe the town in the novel:

With a metropolitan population close to two hundred thousand, Knoxville is not what most people envision when they picture an east Tennessee town in the foothills of the Smokies.

Oh, sure, Knoxville has its country and western bars, lots of mom and pop restaurants serving only artery-clogging food and some of the best pot grown in the country. But Knoxville also has New York style martini bars, upscale boutiques where I can’t afford to buy a thing and A-list gays living next door to Baptist preachers. The area also has more scientists per square mile than hillbillies, thanks to the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Shoot. If a town could be said to have split personality disorder, it’d be Knoxville. One minute residents are grumbling over southern stereotyping and the next, they’re bedazzling a pair of overalls to wear to Dollywood over the weekend. After all, what town could produce Quentin Tarantino, Kenny Chesney and Mountain Dew and not be half off its rocker?

When one of my beta readers first read that description (thanks, Jen!), she said it fit the town to a tee. I hope so, being half off my rocker too.

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