Travel Research – The Popcorn Thief

One of the advantages that a writer like J. D. Horn and The Line has while writing about Georgia and Savannah is that he was born in rural Tennessee. I am a mid-western girl, I wasn’t raised in rural Kentucky.

There are things I can do to overcome this, however, and in general, to write about areas that I (used to) know nothing about.

For example, I spent the summer listening to farm reports from Kentucky on an internet radio station, to get the accent in my head.

I also firmly believe that I should travel to areas I’m writing about, if possible (and then write off as much of the trip as I’m able to as a business expense.)

So this summer I went and spent time in Kentucky, doing research for the novel The Popcorn Thief.

Popcorn Thief Final

The blurb for the novel:

Franklin loves popcorn.

He used to love his mama more. Then she died, but didn’t pass on, and now haunts him like all the other ghosts. Only popcorn brings him solace.

Every year, Franklin competes against Karl for the Kentucky State Fair blue ribbon prize for the best popping corn.

When an angry ghost leaves an ear of corn–stolen from Karl’s crop, with Franklin’s fingerprints on it–at the scene of a murder, Franklin knows his troubles just started.

While I was in Kentucky, I spent an entire day at the Kentucky State fair. Of course, I spent a lot of time admiring the blue ribbon prize for the best popping corn:


As well as admiring the most perfect ear of corn:


After the day at the fair, I spent an entire day driving through the countryside near Louisville, going down back country roads, looking for the town that Franklin would be from. I found Harrodsberg. A lot of the descriptions of the town of Katherinesville (which is Franklin’s town) are based directly on Harrodsberg.

The building that’s the second from the right used to be a Kroger grocery store, which is where Franklin works.


I even found the judicial center, which is just up the street from the Kroger.


Could I have written the novel without traveling to Kentucky? Of course. But by doing a research trip, I felt as though I was able to get a much more authentic piece of fiction, as it were. Plus, the trip inspired me, giving me great details to add to the book.

Read the first two chapters as a PDF.

The Popcorn Thief — available for $5.99 as an ebook, $14.95 paperback

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