I recently received this reader question (which I loved and was so happy to answer!):
What is the real life equivalent to Sutton? I can’t help but imagine Texas State!
To answer this question I thought I’d share a little backstory.
Just a Little Crush didn’t always mention Texas as its location, and when I was querying and then out on sub it was mentioned in notes that the college experience reminded them of their own and they’d wondered if I’d gone to school where ever they’d gone…places I’d never been. I loved that it felt authentic to readers and was reminiscent of their own experience… but I knew eventually I’d have to name a location and it would no longer get to be Anytown USA.
After signing with a publisher, my editor asked me about the location and I knew it was time to finally decide on one. I told her I’d actually modeled JaLC after my experiences at the University of Texas at Austin, so much so that certain places in the book were a little twist on real Austin locations. But we decided to keep it fictional and so Sutton was born (as a much smaller version of UT). But here’s a peek into some Austin places that make an appearance in JaLC.
Sixth street: Anyone who has ever been a college student in Texas probably has a sixth street story. Actually, anyone who has ever been to Austin probably does. Though “The Box” from JaLC is completely fictional, it would be nestled somewhere among the bars and clubs of Sixth Street. And if you’ve ever been in an Alley off of 6th, you’d understand why Brinley wanted to get Ryder out of that alley asap 😉 Austin is also “The Live Music Capital of the World” so there’s always live music throughout places on 6th and the reason why the characters of JaLC (and Fallon’s upcoming book) get to check out bands on any given night.
360 Bridge overlook: In JaLC, the overlook Ryder takes Brinley to is a very modified version of the 360 Bridge overlook. The bridge in JaLC is much more elaborate and the setting is modified quite a bit.
The Drag: The Drag (aka Guadalupe street) is a strip of stores and restaurants directly across from the UT campus. In JaLC, the places they eat and shop at in walking distance (like Amy’s Pho and Zoey’s) are fictional places that would be found on the Drag.
And, for those of you who really know Austin and UT, Brinely and Mason’s dorm in Laney is modeled after places like Jester, and Ryder’s suite in Canton would be similar to places like Callaway House and Dobie Center. Lastly the places Brinley, Mason and Ryder’s families live (as well as where these three grew up) would be suburbs of Austin which are too numerous to mention 🙂
The only thing that didn’t get changed was Dan’s Hamburgers because, OMG, those are some good burgers 🙂 I did use my creative license a bit though because there is no longer a Dan’s in Austin. It now sits just south of Austin in Buda Tx.
As for the reader question, I’m familiar with Texas State because it’s not far from where I live but I’ve never been to that campus either. The reader later went on to tell me that some of my locations reminded her of places around that campus which is so cool, and I love that JaLC is able to draw connections to so many places for so many people!
So that’s the background on Just a Little Crush and Sutton, but for a long time it was just “home” to whoever read it… (and I kind of hope it still is)