By HOWARD BALABAN firstname.lastname@example.org
Medina Journal-Register — The Erie Canal courses through Medina. It also courses through the village of Charlestown, a fictionalized version of the real thing.
The make-believe land of Charlestown was created by Jane McBride, who grew up in Medina. She said many of the names in the village were changed, but there are quite a bit of similarities in her three books, which are available on amazon.com.
“I thought I was writing it so I could call the place whatever I wanted to,” McBride said, who moved away from Medina in 1987, but returned for a two years a couple years ago. She now makes her home in Utah in a suburb of Salt Lake City.
Coming back to the area after being away for more than 20 years reignited McBride’s love for her childhood home.
“I love Medina,” she said. “That’s why I set my stories there. That’s the reason. It’s as simple as that.”
For McBride, though, it was more of a case of absence making the heart grow fonder.
“I didn’t realize how much I loved the place when I was younger, but when I moved back for a few years and saw the town, and the local businesses, and the beautiful old VIctorian homes, and the sense of community, I just thought, ‘Wow, I love this place,’” McBride explained.
“It was the perfect place to set a story.”
The idea for McBride’s book series came about while she was out walking her dog in Medina. “You never know what will inspire you,” she explained.
The story through McBride’s books, which include a fourth one available early next year, follows a young Mormon woman who grows up in Charlestown. After her mother dies, her father moves her from the area when she is 15 years old. After he passes away, she decides to return to her old home at age 27, and decides to adopt a Great Dane. Not only is she forced to learn about being a dog owner, but the story also follows her trials and tribulations as they relate to readjusting to life near the Erie Canal. Eventually, the woman meets a man unlike any she has ever met. He has a tough exterior, but he keeps to himself, leading her to believe there is more to him than meets the eye.
McBride said the stories are based on some of her personal experiences, but they are not biographical in nature.
“It’s meant to be be funny,” she said. “I’m a natural born klutz, so I made my main character a klutz, too. She’s a nice, quirky character who’s well-adjusted and has a lot of Christian attitudes.”
McBride published her first book in September of 2012. Called “A Little Hair of the Dog,” it was soon followed by “Reigning Cats and Dogs” and “The Cats and the Cradle.” The final book in the series, due in the spring, is up for the Marilyn Brown Unpublished Novel Award, which is an award given by a university in Utah.