Today’s author Shelley Munro is close to the antipodes from Canada. Which is ironic considering the Antipodes Islands are part of New Zealand, Shelley’s home. Normally I do an intro for my guests, but Shelley does such a fabulous job of introducing herself, I’ll let you sit back and read…


I grew up in the country, a small community with close ties. To this day, I enjoy reading romances and watching movies etc that are set in small towns because it reminds me of my childhood—I can relate. The Gilmore Girls is repeating on one of the channels down here in NZ. I never saw it the first time, but I’m enjoying the quirky humor and the goings on in Stars Hollow very much.

In the book world I’m enjoying Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series about the life of a midwife and a pub owner and all their friends—the trials and tribulations and the special moments of love and laughter. Lauren Dane’s Chase Brothers series, set in a town called Petal is also a lot of fun and most recently I’ve read Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl. This book chronicles the adventures of Molly Jennings and her relocation to Tumble Creek in Colorado. Kristan Higgins is also another favorite with her first person romances set in small towns.

Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to living in a small community, both of which can be used to great effect in romantic fiction or movies.

  1. People know each other and family histories.
  2. When times get tough, friends and neighbors step in and help.
  3. There’s generally less trouble in small towns and less need for tight personal security.
  4. Usually less graffiti and litter.
  5. Cheaper cost of living.
  6. Great place to bring up children.
  7. There are some great local traditions and celebrations.
  8. Plenty of parking spaces.


  1. People know each other and family histories.
  2. Some services are lacking, although the advent of the Internet counteracts this.
  3. Small town gossip – it’s hard to misbehave without everyone knowing.
  4. It’s hard to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right because the choices are limited.
  5. People never forget your mistakes or your parents’ mistakes.
  6. If you do something wrong or want to keep a secret, it will get back to the people you don’t want to hear. i.e. that sex toy you ordered via the Internet and the packaging broke – the postmistress will tell everyone!
  7. Sometimes it feels like living in a fishbowl because people are nosy!

Since I enjoy small town stories so much you shouldn’t be surprised to hear I’ve written a few of my own. There’s my Middlemarch Mates series about a community of black leopard shapeshifters who live in the country town of Middlemarch. I also have my Talking Dog series about aliens who crash land in the fictional small town of Sloan plus a few standalone small town stories such as Fancy Free and Fringe Benefits. Going with the small theme, they’re all set in New Zealand, which is a small country!

I’d like to wish Leah a very happy birthday. Thank you very much for inviting me to join in with the festivities.

CONTEST: Since every good party has presents, I’m giving away a download from my Ellora’s Cave, Cerridwen Press or Samhain backlist to one reader. To go into a draw tell me what you think about living in a small community. Do you like it? Do you have any advantages or disadvantages to add to my list? Is there a book or a movie set in a small town that you’d like to recommend?

Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand with her husband and a small geriatric dog. Her most recent release is Tea For Two, which is now available in print from Samhain Publishing and all good bookstores. You can visit Shelley at or check out her daily blog post at

Shelley Munro: Small Town Girl

49 thoughts on “Shelley Munro: Small Town Girl

  • July 24, 2009 at 4:35 am

    I live in South Bend, Indiana. It is not huge by any means, but it is well known because of Notre Dame. I would like like to live a very large city or community. Too many people, too much noise. I could live somewhere much smaller and be happy. I do know that Rudy was filmed here in good old South Bend.

    Amy M

  • July 24, 2009 at 4:51 am

    Hiya Shelley!

    We live in a small town too. It has a gas station and a biker bar. And you're right that everyone knows your name-all the bikers wave whenever I drive by 🙂

    But we're also lucky to live not even ten minutes out of a large city, so going out to do groceries and run errands is no big deal and we work in the city, so it's not a very long drive.

  • July 24, 2009 at 4:52 am

    Hi, Shelley! I don't live in a small town, but have always loved reading about them–the advantages seem to be that small-town feel where everyone helps one another out but I'm not sure I'd like everyone knowing everything about my business 😉 I liked Debbie Macomber's series set in a small Texas town called Promise. I've got some of the serieses you mentioned, too!

  • July 24, 2009 at 4:58 am

    Hey, Shelley. I had to laugh when you sent me your post because I lived outside of a small town of 250. Every one was related to everyone else – if you couldn't trace back at least three generations in the area, you were still an outsider.

    But that's okay, because zombies attacked it. Seriously. They attacked last year: — not that there's really a radio station in Pontypool:

  • July 24, 2009 at 5:33 am

    Hi Shelley!

    I love your list of advantages/disadvantages – and that some things are on both lists.

    I grew up in the comfy smaller city of Halifax, and moved to the big city of Toronto for 13 years. I was never so happy as when I was in Toronto! I'm a Big City Gal, and that's all there is to it.

    My husband and I moved to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia for two years to live with my grandmother and keep an eye on her. It cured us of any romantic notion that we might ever want to permanently live in a small town. While we were there it had a population of almost 8000. Just couldn't cope with the blinders-to-the-rest-of-the-world vibe going on there, and the high-beam-focus on everything that happened within the town itself. Yikes!

    We're back in my home city of Halifax. And what used to feel cramped and confining to me in my 20's is do-able now that I've experienced the small town thing!

  • July 24, 2009 at 6:14 am

    I have never really lived in a small town so I don't know what it is like..I sometimes wonder, but since I am so use to living in the city I think I could not give it up….

  • July 24, 2009 at 6:15 am

    I live in a small town. I like that traffic is not as bad as in th city.

  • July 24, 2009 at 6:51 am

    I grew up in a middle market city — in a neighborhood where everyone knew everyone but a downtown 15 minutes away where there was greater anonymity. When I was 18 I came to NYC and realized I was *home*! I love the energy, the pace, the theatre and music and dance and everything else. Yet there is a community here as well, which I treasure. There really are no more than six degrees of separation …

    However, when I win the lottery someday, I'd like to have my beach or mountain house to retreat to regularly for long weekends 😉

    Thanks for the contest!

  • July 24, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Hi, Shelley!
    I don't live in a small town (St. Louis, MO) but I used to live in an area just outside of the city that had that small town vibe going. I enjoyed some of the advantages, but the one thing I hated was that if somebody got mad at you, they would start stuff and it just went all over town before you could reconcile with that person. Sometimes it got funny, too, because you would make up with the person and be seen hanging with them, and others are still hearing the rumors first time and going "Huh?"

  • July 24, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Hi Shelley….. Nice to talk to you here. I too grew up in a small town, I love romances but tend to lean towards the paranormal, and hey I even spell my name the correct way too…. SHELL EY…. don't cha hate when they forget the E…. that's the main reason I shortened to Shell…. got tired
    of telling people to put an E in it.
    Living in a small town has its disadvantages and advantages. Right now it is a disadvantage when it comes to my son's hockey… he is only allowed to play at a certain level if he doesn't want to play AAA he has to drop way down to a BB center cause that is what the town is….
    Anyway. I had the honor of reviewing Make that Man Mine and I loved it. To win prizes like Emma did would be great!!! LOL

  • July 24, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Well, Shelley, I've never lived in a small community. I'm a suburban girl, myself. But I do have relatives who live in small towns and I've enjoyed visiting them. They never lock their doors… Weird!

  • July 24, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Growing up we lived in small towns across the country since my dad was in the military.

    I just loved that everyone in town knew each other and that growing up they developed friendships that I yearned for and was not able to nurture because we constantly moved from one remote area to another.

    The down side was the lack of take-out pizza, ethnic restaurants, and

  • July 24, 2009 at 8:12 am

    I grew up in a small town and many of the good and bad you mentioned are very true. I mostly liked it because of a feeling of safety and people actually cared about what happened to you.

  • July 24, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Hello Shelley,

    I've lived in both city and small towns. I personally prefer the small town life. The only problem I'm having lately is everybody feeling like they are entitled to know what is going on in my personally life. This is the one big plus for living in a city nobody cares what you are doing or who you are doing it with. Have a great day.

  • July 24, 2009 at 9:18 am

    I live in countryside and the things you said are true also in countryside.

  • July 24, 2009 at 9:22 am

    I think the perfect combination would be living in a small town that is close (maybe within an hour) to a big city. You get the advantages of small town life along with being close to a big city and the advantages that go with that.

    I love books about small town life. There are almost always great quirky characters (yes, sometimes stereotyped) and a wonderful closeness that you often can't find in a book with a big-city setting.

    I recently re-read one of my favorites – Sweetheart, Indiana by Suzanne Simmons – and it's got all those stereotypical quirky characters a romantic comedy needs. But it's a great sweet love story as well from an author who recently passed away too soon.

  • July 24, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Happy Birthday Leah.
    I would love to live in a small community. My sister and mother both live and smaller towns and I just love visiting them for all the reasons you stated. The only thing I found is that the cost of groceries, gas, etc.. are not really less then living in the big city. At times it is more expensive since the goods have to be shipped farther. Also, by my sister, there is a higher percentage of drug usage (meth). I don't know why but Wyoming has an extremely high ratio of drug users. She thinks its due to the lack of anything else for the kids to do.

  • July 24, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Orelukjp0 – yes, it was the same way in my farming community. There was one cinema 20 miles away, and a drive-in that played the movie the cinema had had the previous week. Very little for a teenager to do, and you have to drive in the country if you want to get around. Since my mom didn't get her license until after I did, we were pretty much stuck in place.

    I think it's fine for little kids or for adults, but for teens country living can suck. Of course then again you get to learn to drive in the fields 😉 and there are parties back in the fields that you 'think' the adults don't know about (except they used to have them in the same places, LOL – for us it was the abandoned gravel pits)

  • July 24, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Hi Shelley!!!

    I live in a small town. I really like it. I can get everywhere by foot….no need for buses, trams or trains. When I'm out and about, I often meet someone. I've often met a friend or two that I wanted to call…so tht was cool.

    I guess an disadvantage is that news gets around really fast…hehe!!!

    Otherwise, I prefer living in a small town than in a big city.


  • July 24, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Hi Shelley,
    I don't know what living in a small town is like. I've always lived in the city. One of the great things is that not everyone knows your personal business.

  • July 24, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I grew up in a very large city, then lived in a small town, then moved back to a largish city and I think I prefer the small town life.

    My parents moved around I don't really have roots and I wish I did. My hubby grew up in a small farming community and has good roots, and I'm envious of that.

  • July 24, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I live in a small towm—appx 2000 citizens. the nearest bigger town is 16 miles away and a big toen is over 100 miles away.
    I love living here, but there is no book store. So I have to buy from the grocery store or go to WalMart in the bigger town.
    I order a lot of books over the internet because the selection is so small here.

  • July 24, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Estella, where my mother lives they say if Wal-Mart doesn't have it, you don't need it. LOL

  • July 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I love living in my small town. I'm going to college in a small town. I don't think that i would enjoy a big time whatsoever.
    lexeetoste at

  • July 24, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    I live in the suburbs of a very big city but I would LOVE to move to a small town!
    One day we hope to make our dream come true and live in a small town, get a house with acreage and have horses.

  • July 24, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    That's a neat list, Shelley. I grew up in Washington, D.C. and now live at the end of the world(road) in rural Louisiana. When you're an outsider you see the advantages and disadvantages from a different perspective than the locals, lol. I'd love to read another of your books.

  • July 24, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Hi everyone. My apologies for arriving so late. It's Saturday morning here in NZ, and I had to go out early this morning. My hubby shooed me away from the Internet, big meanie that he is!

    Amy – I've lived in both large cities (London) and small country towns. I think they both have advantages and disadvantages, but I have to say there's nothing quite like seeing the night sky when you're away from the light pollution of a city.

  • July 24, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    JK – it sounds as if you live in the perfect place to have the advantages of both small town and larger town.

    Frank – I think Debbie Maconber does small towns really well and imparts real warmth and hope in her stories.

  • July 24, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Leah – Zombies? Really? I'm off to check out that link!

    Julia – I can imagine that some small towns are insulated from the outside, although I haven't found that. I've obviously been lucky!

    Savannah – these days with the Internet the small town boundaries aren't as bad. Yes, thank goodness for the Internet, which is most helpful when living in a small country as well!

  • July 24, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Leah – LOL – okay. I've checked out the zombies. We get hobbits here in NZ!

    Crystal – That's a big plus. The town I grew up in didn't have any traffic lights. Actually, I don't think it has traffic lights yet. 🙂

    Bella – Cities do have a distinct energy. I love visiting to go to theatre and big shows and concerts. Also for interesting cuisine!

  • July 24, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    LOL Nancy – that's one of the big disadvantages, I think! It's no fun having half the town ignoring you.

    Shelley/Shell – I hear you about that "E". In my case people like deleting the second E and adding it to the end of Munro. I can't win 😉

    I'm so glad you enjoyed Make That Man Mine. Emma and Jack are favorites of mine!

  • July 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Helen – no we never used to lock our doors either. Unfortunately we have to these days. My MIL still doesn't lock her doors and windows when she goes out. Hubby is always telling her off about security.

    Armenia – yes, the lack of ethnic restaurants and theatre is a biggie since I enjoy both. I remember when Chinese food was a novelty!

  • July 24, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Joder – I think the safety and caring factors are huge pluses that I took for granted until I lived in a city. Not being able to trust people is really sad. Of course, I know most people who live in cities are wonderful people, but sometimes it's hard to know until after the fact.

    Hi Roberta – I hear you. Hugs, I hope this passes and they concentrate on someone else soon. 🙂

  • July 24, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Minna – I've lived in a fairly isolated area in the country as well. I remember all the fun times we had playing outside and exploring caves etc.

    Lori – thanks for the recommendation. I haven't read this one and will look for it. 🙂

    Orelukjp0 – yes, that's true. Things are more expensive. I haven't come across the drug problem, but I imagine that could happen.

  • July 24, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Valerie – We always had to drive or ride a horse to get places, but we didn't live right in town. It's great being able to walk. I try to walk most days. 🙂

    Jane – Everyone knowing your business is certainly one of the drawbacks, but on the plus side you know everyone else's business and have ammunition to fire back in the casue of trouble! 🙂

  • July 24, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Amy – Small towns definitely don't change. It really feels like you're going home when you return and nothing has changed. I hope baby is letting you sleep at night. 🙂

  • July 24, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Estella – I feel your pain about the bookstores or lack of them. I purchase mainly ebooks these days. they're much cheaper and I can get my fix any time I feel like it!

    LOL – hubby and I like wandering around Walmart stores when we travel to the US. They certainly do seem to have everything!

  • July 24, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Lexee – I loved going to school in a small town. We had some excellent teachers. It's a shame so many country schools are having to close in NZ (I imagine it would be the same in the US) due to funding issues.

    Mari – hubby and I were talking about that the other day. We live in Auckland, although we don't have to drive far to be in the country. We'd love to have a small block of land in the future. I think it would be the best of both worlds. 🙂

  • July 24, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Marley – it certainly can take locals a while to warm to outsiders. That's a great conflict for a romance, I think! Good luck in the contest. 🙂

  • July 24, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Hello, ladies! I've been out all day or I'd have posted this at Win a Book. Apologies because you two are some of my favorite people.

    As for small town living, I did it in grad school. Loved it. I think one reason was that there wasn't really a class structure, per se. The year after I left, the McMansions invaded a cornfield and … that was the end of the non-class-structure small town. I'd have moved back and raised my kids there. Or at least considered it.

  • July 24, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    I live in a small TX farm town and love it. The people are friendly and nature still exists here. High school football games are big events and graduation empties the entire town to the high school.

    The only drawback is it's a fairly long drive to get to the larger city conveniences. You just learn to plan better.

  • July 24, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Hi Susan. 🙂
    Around Auckland, the city is spreading rapidly and a lot of the smaller towns are now full of citydwellers with small tracks of land. It's certainly changed the flavor and makeup of some of the communities with both good and bad things. One of the bad things is the way the property values have jumped. You can't afford to buy unless you have plenty of money.

  • July 24, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Cybercliper – ah, yes. Lists are definitely your friend. I remember when we were kids how we'd plan and have an entire day in the nearest town so our parents could get everything done and hit the livestock sales as well.

  • July 24, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Shelley, I live in a small town outside of Evansville, Indiana (which is probably small to a lot of people). I love it, neither my hubby or myself like crowds. It is pretty laid back, but close enough to everything in the next town.

  • July 24, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    I spent my teen years in the country in WI. The area had a small town feel and I loved it. You felt safe. Even if you didn't know someone, you waved as you passed each other.

    Then I went into the military and was stationed at a small place. I was one of less than 10 single women on base. You always felt as if every move was watched. You knew who was cheating on who. Things that only friends should know about you, everyone knew. On the otherhand, I could walk into the club on my own at anytime and find friends.

    Once my husband and I got married, I acquired a different perspective. Going into labor meant a trip of over an hour to the hospital (nearly didn't make it). For that matter, every doctor's appointment meant a day trip. Of course when my son was born they congratulated us on a billboard sign.

    You either bought the groceries available in a store the size of a 7-11 or drove an hour. So every other weekend you loaded up the cooler and spent a day in Phoenix shopping for everything you thought you'd need.

  • July 24, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Rhonda – it sounds like the perfect small town. I'm not a fan of crowds either. If I have to go somewhere that I know will be crowded I always go early before the crowds arrive. 🙂

  • July 24, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Kytaira – we've been lucky with medical care. Our nearest doctor was about half an hour drive away, which wasn't too bad. A day trip to see the doctor would really take the shine off my day. I'm not a fan of doctors. 🙂

    The fear of having baby arrive before you reached the hospital must have been a bit scary, but the billboard would have been a lovely touch.

  • July 25, 2009 at 2:52 am

    Have always lived in an urban area which has grown in the last 30 years. Finding a small town takes more work than it used to in the Puget Sound area. I think I would not mind living in a rural area now if I had internet to stay connected.

  • July 25, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Hi Shelley,

    I live in a small village -yes i said village just sounth of York in Northen England. I love it i know people in teh local shop and i know my neighbours watch out for my kids. meaning they can play outside and be safe.

    You know I love your books Shelley especially the small town ones they point out alot of the reasons i like living where i do.

    Happy birthday Leah

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