He’ll have grown up in a tree-lined, mid-sized town. The kids ride their bikes to the library, and chalk art brighten the sidewalks. Children play outside until dusk when their mothers call them in. It’s a place where people are as likely to leave their doors unlocked as to lock them. It is the childhood home of our American terrorist. It is Iowa.
Although his hometown will spring from my imagination, the characteristics of the place and its people must be grounded in fact. How people in that part of Iowa make their livings. Whether they lean politically left or right or are in the middle. If they are effusive or taciturn, nosey or private. Do they tend to be homebodies or move on? Is the population homogeneous or diverse? What are the attitudes towards people different from themselves? How are newcomers viewed? To create this fictional Iowa town, I first must understand real ones nearby.