Why Charlie's Mirror is set in Wisconsin blog post by Brenda Lyne

Why Charlie's Mirror is set in Wisconsin

As a Minnesota-based author, with four of my five novels set in Minnesota, I'm often asked why my debut novel, Charlie's Mirror, is set in Wisconsin. There's a reason for that!

In the spring of 1997, I was on the tail end of my sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I was a recent transfer from a smaller campus in the UW system, and I was enamored with this huge, old campus. I lived in Adams Hall, one of the first Lakeshore dorms to be built on the shores of Lake Mendota in 1926. Originally constructed as a men's dorm, it was (and still is) a charming old stone-clad building with a four stories and no elevator (which I'm sure has been corrected since then), in a part of campus filled with similarly historical buildings. My roommate Stacy and I had a room that overlooked the street and the parking lot, but some had lake views and others had courtyard views.

The age and the history of not only the Lakeshore but the entire campus fascinated me. I walked everywhere, saw all the historical monuments and buildings, and imagined what college life at UW might have been like twenty, fifty, a hundred years ago and more. These were the days before anyone really had a cellphone, when the internet came through the phone line at excruciatingly slow speeds (and the info available out there was spotty at best) -- so I used my imagination. And the first seed of an idea for what would ultimately be my very first published novel was born.

It would only take me 23 years to write it. 

I'd been back in Minnesota for years by the time I finally sat down to write Charlie's Mirror. I could have decided to set it here. But to do that would have felt wrong somehow. My years at the University of Wisconsin were some of the best years of my life, and I wanted to honor that by having Sara and Charlie's stories take place there. Charlie's Mirror is, as a Wisconsin State Journal reporter best described it in a feature piece, my love letter to the University.

And I'm proud of it.

Haven't read Charlie's Mirror yet? Check it out here!

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