Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Setting of Highway Thirteen to Manhattan by Kourtney Heintz

Why Butternut?

I grew up in a quaint Connecticut town, went to college in Washington, D.C., lived most of my adult life in New York, NY, with a few years at grad school in San Diego, CA. So how did I ever end up writing not just a book, but a series that is set in Butternut, Wisconsin?

When I was deciding on the location for my series, I lived in Manhattan. Coincidentally, I was starting the series there for my characters too. In The Six Train to Wisconsin, my main character, Kai is a telepath whose powers spiral out of control in New York. Her husband Oliver had to bring her somewhere that was isolated and had less than a 1000 people in a half-mile radius, which was her telepathic radius.

Oliver and Kai had met at college in San Diego and lived in New York for a few years. They were city folks. I wanted to do a “fish out of water” angle, so I decided to drop two New Yorkers in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest. I pulled out my atlas because, yes, I have a fascination with maps and road trips. Anyway, I’m searching through my atlas and I find Butternut. It fit all the requirements of my story and I adored the name.

But I never like to go with my first option, so I checked out a few other possibilities. I loved the idea of an island, but when I researched the Apostle Islands, there were way too many tourists descending on that area. I looked over in Door County too, but again, there seemed to be a lot of tourists. It wouldn’t make sense for Oliver to take her to those places to help her get away from people. So I went with my first option, the Northwoods town of Butternut in Ashland County.

After some Google research, I decided to make a trip out there so that I could write about all the places Oliver and Kai were going to be. I really wanted a strong sense of place, and I couldn’t do that without spending a few days there.

I stayed at the Deer Haven Lodge and got to bottle feed the fawns. I gave this experience to Kai in my first novel. During my visit, I fell in love with the town and its people. Butternut is the kind of place where people care about their neighbors.

When I was working on Highway Thirteen to Manhattan, I went back to visit again. I had ideas about where Kai and Oliver would go. I wanted to incorporate more of the town into my second book in this series, so I made sure to hang out at as many places as I could. Not all of these places could be featured in the book, but some places were.

Brennan’s Green Brier

Cruise Inn Spring Creek 

The Butternut Feed Store 

The Butternut Area Historical Museum

What’s your favorite setting for a book? Why?

Highway Thirteen to Manhattan
The Six Train to Wisconsin Series
Book Two
Kourtney Heintz

Genre: Paranormal and Suspense

Publisher: Aurea Blue Press

Date of Publication: 11/1/2016

ISBN: 978-0989132688

Number of pages: 420
Word Count: 94,000

Cover Artist: Creative Paramita

Book Description:

His secrets almost killed her. Her secrets may destroy them both.

Kai is recovering from a near-death experience when she realizes something isn’t right. Her body is healing, but her mind no longer feels quite like her own. Her telepathic powers are changing, too. She can’t trust herself. The darkness growing inside of her pushes her to use her telepathy as a weapon.

Oliver clings to the hope that he can save their marriage, even though he was the one who put her life in jeopardy. As his wife slips further and further away from him, he becomes increasingly obsessed with bringing the man who ruined his life to justice.

The sequel to The Six Train to Wisconsin is a genre-defying tale of love and consequences. Once again, award-winning author Kourtney Heintz seamlessly weaves suspense and paranormal intrigue into a real-world setting, creating characters rich in emotional and psychological complexity.

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Grab Book One for Free October 1- December 1

The Six Train to Wisconsin

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CHAPTER 1 Highway Thirteen to Manhattan 


Like most daughters, I loved my parents, but right now, I wanted them anywhere but here. Hospitals are always hard, but my parents managed to make it harder. My head was already pounding from all the thoughts and emotions coming at me. Not just from the patients and their families and the doctors and the nurses, but also from my mother and father. Instead of shielding their thoughts and trying to make it better for me, they let their emotions crash into me.
My mind wasn’t strong enough for all this. Neither was my body. Tubes eviscerated my right hand. A giant bruise blossomed beside the newest IV line. A cast wrapped around my left wrist. My broken pinky finger had been set and taped to my ring finger. The back of my head was held together with stitches. Beneath the blanket, my body was covered in bruises.
I didn’t feel any physical pain because of the medications the doctors pumped into me. They said I needed it to recover, but it made my body feel like it wasn’t mine. And the steady drip of opiates didn’t just steal my physical pain; it left me unable to form the psychic shield I needed to protect myself from the misery swirling around me.
Mom sat in the chair closest to my bed. She wore one of her flowing peasant blouses and faded jeans. Her hair was pulled back in a messy bun, and light brown strands slipped loose to hang around her face. The corners of her hazel eyes were pinched with worry.
Her hand hovered over my arm, unsure where to touch me—if she should touch me. Finally, she laid her hand gently on my thigh. “You just need to rest here for a few more days.”
She was wrong. I needed to get out of here. Away from all these thoughts as soon as possible. “I want to go home.”
Mom shook her head. “You need to let the doctors help you.” Like they did last time.
Her thoughts slammed into my brain. She thought hospitalization was the solution to everything.
“Please. Look at what’s happened to you. You can’t go home until you’re better,” she said. I can’t lose you. I won’t let that happen.
I didn’t know how to reassure her. Yes, I’d almost died, but being here was hurting me more than it was healing me. I swallowed all the words I wanted to say and hoped for Caleb to come back soon. My brother would know how to talk to Mom, how to make her understand.
The doctor came in to check on me and Mom’s agonizing fear rose up. Don’t let her have brain damage.
Dad patted Mom’s shoulder. He looked like an older, surfer version of Caleb. Both were tall and muscular with curly blond hair. Dad’s hair was a darker blond streaked with platinum from decades in the sun and salt water. His eyes were greener than Caleb’s, but like Caleb’s, they were rimmed with purple bruises. When Dad smiled, sun lines radiated from his eyes and cut across his cheeks. But I hadn’t seen them since he’d arrived at my bedside. Instead, waves of exhaustion rolled off him and rippled over me, right before I heard his thoughts. I can’t go through this again, watching you slip away.
My younger sister Naomi lounged in the chair in the corner as far from me as she could get. She had Mom’s light brown hair and thin frame and Dad’s green eyes and height. She looked nothing like me and only distantly related to Caleb. Her long legs looped over the armrest as she flipped through a magazine. Thanks for ruining Christmas break. I’d rather be anywhere but here.
I felt the same way.
At least Oliver was gone for the moment. Mom had convinced him to go home, take a shower, maybe even sleep. I couldn’t bear his guilt; it was so thick it choked me.
Oliver. My husband. God. I’d never loved and hated someone so much at the same time. I still couldn’t believe he’d called my parents. He knew how bad they were at handling me. How could he have thought that having my family here would be good for me?
Bitterness frosted my thoughts. I was in a hospital, bruised and battered. I’d almost died. That’s what Caleb had said. He was the only one willing to tell me the truth. Oliver had said it was bad, but he wouldn’t say how bad. He couldn’t bear to admit what happened to me.

About the Author:

Kourtney Heintz is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Six Train to Wisconsin (2013), the first book in The Six Train to Wisconsin series. She also writes bestselling young adult novels under the pseudonym K.C. Tansley. Heintz is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Heintz has given writing workshops and author talks at libraries, museums, universities, high schools, conventions, wineries, non-profits organizations, and writing conferences. She has been featured in the Republican American of Waterbury, Connecticut; on WTNH’s CT Style; and on the radio show, Everything Internet.

Kourtney resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amok at night, envisioning a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide.

You can find out more about Kourtney and her books at:

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open from October 1-December 1 
prizes include naming a character in her next book, 
Butternut gift basket, and a $50 Amazon gift card. 

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Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for letting me take over your blog for a day!

Anonymous said...

I love that Butternut is a real place Kourtney - it has such a great name you'd think it was fictional - and I love the way you chose it and then visited to soak in the atmosphere.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. It's a really special place. I've come to know the people there and I am so happy to make it the home for my characters. In Highway Thirteen there are more scenes at actual places in town. It was really fun to mix reality and fiction.