Hartsville: The Nicest Town You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Why, when I have all of the beauty that is Maine at my fingertips, did I create Haleswood for The Thief, basing my small, fictitious town on the real charm of Hartsville, South Carolina?

It started with a road trip to see extended family who lives in the Florence area. That turned into a tour of a nearby high school boarding school where a friend’s nephew is in attendance.

You can’t get from point a to point b in that part of South Carolina without passing stands of tall loblolly pines, wide lakes, and acres and acres of cotton. But when you reach the gem that is Hartsville, you realize your journey was worth the time.

Hartsville is real. Some might call it a quaint throw back to an earlier era. The pace is calm, but not exactly slow. With the top academic high school in the state and the wonderful resources of a fine college campus like Coker, you might find yourself in an interesting debate over math, science, economy, or social issues at any given moment.

During my visit, there was a great deal of talk about a recent crime that had shocked everyone. It was obvious how residents (both permanent and students) rallied to support one another as the investigation slowly unraveled the truth.

There is a community pride and deep-seated integrity in Hartsville that became the core inspiration for the setting of The Thief. Both my lead characters (as well as the supporting cast) see the pros and cons of small town life very differently and that leads to various conflicts and potential resolution.

I enjoy exploring new settings and Hartsville was an unexpected treat along the journey of writing The Thief. I hope you’ll enjoy the infusion of small town South Carolina charm that is the backdrop for this fast-paced romantic suspense tale.

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