When I first wrote "Something I Am Not", (then "Billy") the town was Wilcox, and it materialized from my imagination. I liked the sound of it. And I conjured a northeast suburbia—small enough to maintain a close-knit community, large enough to offer the obscurity of an illegal gambling ring. A stone’s throw to a major city and the network of a larger river. The river was vital to the story as it became Billy’s escape—his sanctuary.
Wilcox had all the right elements in my mind, until I realized it existed outside of it (my mind, that is). Wilcox was real. Population: 383. Less than four hundred people. Nothing could happen in Wilcox without everyone knowing it. Max McQueen would easily be found out. And then, too, it was as far away from a main river as a town in Pennsylvania could be!
So, I spent days researching Pennsylvania towns until I found it! The exact setting, right down to a google map that brought me face-to-face with the old warehouse Billy’s father transformed into a boxing club.
There it was! Kingston, PA. Population: 12,861. Colonial, yet progressive. Boasting a network of the great Susquehanna River. The town, the high school, the farmland, the backstreets, the park, the forest—it was all there. Just the way I imagined it. As if it had been waiting for me to discover it.
“TKO set itself apart from the other pubs in town and drew a steady stream of locals and outsiders. … The big draw, unlike any other sports club of its kind—at least not anywhere near Kingston—was the small indoor boxing ring Max had built the day we moved in. I supposed the fight would never be shaken from the man.
“My river. My home. A petering offshoot of the great Susquehanna. We knew it as Toby Creek, and I often wondered who Toby had been. Did he spend hours there? Swimming, climbing the rocks, dreaming. And when his mother sent a sister to find him in the late afternoon, the mother would say, ‘He’s down by the creek. His creek.’ And one day, it took on his name and lived forever as his.”