In Pack of Dawn and Destiny, the city of Timber Ridge itself is practically a character due to how important the city itself is to Pip, Greyson, and the harmony between wolves and humans. That harmony is a big deal in the book, so I knew I needed to make sure that scenes in the city counted, so you could feel the difference between it and other normal cities–or even Magiford itself. I attempted to achieve that by filling it with interesting characters like Mayor Pearl, and by being very purposeful in the kind and stores, shops, and restaurants I showed.
I started by focusing on attempting to put a northern Wisconsin atmosphere in it. There’s a region in Wisconsin called Door County (in the map below, it’s the red part.) Door county is a popular tourist area since it pokes into Lake Michigan. The area is filled with Bed and Breakfast homes, beaches, cherry orchards, wineries, parks, and more.
What’s unique about Door County is that it’s exactly that, a county. There’s lots of little cities in Door County, and equally small cities on the lake that are clustered near Door County but not quite in it.
A few years ago I traveled to area just south of Door County, and explored cities like Manitowoc, and Green Bay, but it was the smaller cities–like Two Rivers and Algoma–that really captured the feeling I wanted for Timber Ridge. The smaller cities in Door County and the area just south of it have more of a traditional Wisconsin vibe with their excessive amounts of bars and churches, but each town also have very specific, tourist-friendly places. For instance, every city has a café, and typically one diner, and a “supper club” in addition to the bars–which, yes, most bars in Wisconsin serve fish fries on Fridays! Most cities will also typically have a bowling ally–or one within a 20 minute drive–and most libraries tend to be right on, if not close to, the town’s main street.
Despite being clustered together, each city has a unique spin–some have ice cream parlors, small museums, or huge parks with walking trails. The idea for the Timber Ridge Welcome center was partially inspired by a welcome center in the town of Algoma, and by another location I’ll mention shortly!
I modeled downtown Timber Ridge–with its park, Town Hall, Welcome Center, library, café, and other eateries–after the smaller Wisconsin cities in the area. However, a lot of the theming and more tourist-friendly locations the wolves came up with were inspired by another Wisconsin city–one much larger, and located in south central Wisconsin: Wisconsin Dells.
Wisconsin Dells is another huge tourist city with its many water parks, amusement park, forest reserves, **mini golf**, and lakes that provide space for entertainment like water skiing, canoeing, and the Wisconsin Dells Ducks. The Door County area is more beach focused since it’s on Lake Michigan, but Wisconsin Dells–despite being in southern Wisconsin–has more of the log-cabin/up-north feel to it. (There’s a literal Paul Bunyan themed restaurant which has been around so long, I went to it as a kid!)
I borrowed the more rustic feeling of Wisconsin Dells when coming up with the insides of my Timber Ridge buildings–specifically the Welcome Center and Howl-In Cafe. But while the town of Algoma inspired the Timber Ridge welcome center, Wisconsin Dells inspired the giftshop inside the center, as well as the never seen Sweets Shoppe.
Wisconsin Dells has a famous candy store called Goody Goody Gumdrop, and more themed giftshops than I could prepare you for. (The boggling number of giftshops was incredibly useful to me when I needed to come up with ideas of inventory for the Timber Ridge Welcome Center gift shop!) Some of the giftshops also sell fudge, truffles, and other sweet treats that are made right there in the shop–which inspired more than a few conversation topics for the visiting Night Court Fae.
You can also see the Wisconsin Dells influence in the Northern Lakes Wolves’ camp-style compound with the small cottages and giant main lodge that’s built out of timber and decorated in a matching, rustic fashion.
And there you have it–the inspiration for Timber Ridge! This city was so much fun to dream up–particularly because I’m very familiar with the area. Confession time, I set Magiford in the Midwest–which is a pretty unlikely place for urban fantasy novels–because it’s the only area I can reliably describe. Also, I have some speech patterns, sayings, etc that are part of my Midwestern accent and I don’t even know they exist, so I was very aware that even if I researched the heck out of other areas, my characters would still sound midwestern, so…ta da!
I hope you enjoyed learning about Timber Ride! Until next time, thanks for reading!