I’m using a fictional city named Deep Springs, Texas, as the primary setting for this (non-fiction) book, Aggravated: The True Story of How a Series of Lies Sent an Innocent Man to Prison. I realize that’s quite a mouthful, so I usually just refer to it as Aggravated. I wanted to include this post on the blog partly to explain why I decided to entirely change the names of people, places and things, but also to be able to post a map of Ashwell County for the readers of the book. By necessity any map in the book will be small in order to fit on the page. Readers of the e-book version might also be looking at a small image depending on which device they’re using. I do recommend that you display the blog on a large monitor if possible when you look at the map.
I had already used Deep Springs in several of my books, so it was a handy locale for this book too. It was also especially appropriate in this instance because I had previously based fictional Deep Springs on the same actual city where Steve’s trials took place. In The Jagged Man (a thriller about an 8,000 year old sociopath), Sarah Brown, the protagonist, grew up in Deep Springs. Several scenes in that book are set there. In the If a Butterfly series (which is a bit like Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon, but with a butterfly), Rock Jackson, a DJ, left Deep Springs for Dallas when he got his first big job in radio. In Murder Between Friends, the main character, Brett Locklin, returned to Deep Springs from Houston when his mom was in a car wreck, and found himself embroiled in a mysterious murder. That entire book was set in Deep Springs. Jagged Man is the only one of those that is already published. The others are waiting in line behind Aggravated, which is clearly more important to me right now.
Apparently there is no specific cutoff point (in terms of population) to determine when a town becomes a city. The main criteria seems to be incorporation, but I’m not even sure of that. At any rate, Aggravated takes place mostly in four locations, Deep Springs, Alderson, Bloom, and Saddleview (a city, a town, a city, and an unincorporated area, respectively). Other locations garner a mention, but don’t figure into the story as heavily.
Here’s a quick rundown on each, with a caveat. The demographics won’t be entirely accurate (in order to help disguise the town’s or city’s identity), but they will be close enough to give you a sense of size and personality. All these locations, including the fictional roadways and other institutions, are located inside Ashwell County.
Deep Springs (a city), the county seat, was founded in the late 1800’s. At first, largely a farming and ranching community, its population grew steadily for the next half-century. It nearly doubled in size during World War Two (to around 15,000 people) because of the establishment of an army base, Camp Crockett, on its southern outskirts. The population shrunk by about 20% when the camp closed after the war, but slowly increased after that. Some manufacturing plants moving to the city helped keep the population relatively stable for the last forty decades or so.
Alderson (a town), has a population of less than 400, and is where Hannah and her family lived. It’s located about thirteen miles northeast of Deep Springs, just off US 373 (a major roadway, running roughly northeast to southwest). The local school district serves about 200 students, drawing some of them from the surrounding area outside of the town limits.
Bloom (a city), is located immediately to the east of downtown Deep Springs. A major highway, US 179, separates the two cities. Bloom is considerably smaller, though, around 2,500 people. The movie theater described in the chapters, The Night of Harry Potter, Parts One and Two, is in the Bloom Junction Mall, on the western edge of the city (on the border between Deep Springs and Bloom).
Saddleview (an unincorporated community), which is apparently even smaller than a town, currently has about 250 residents. It lies to the northeast of Lake Ashwell. The lake is located about ten miles due north of Deep Springs. Steve lived in Saddleview Cove, which is a subdivision on the northeastern edge of the lake.
Standard Disclaimer: Please post a comment below if you would like to. All comments are personally moderated by a grouchy old guy, though, so posts by self-promotional schemers, spammers, and lunatic ranters won’t make it through. Everyone else, whether your thoughts about this story are positive or negative, please feel free to speak your mind, but don’t ask me to reveal the identities of any of these individuals. Thanks.