State author sets her new book in Medicine Park
MEDICINE PARK The newest novel from author Constance Squires will take readers back to Medicine Park in the days before it was a popular tourist destination.
"Live from Medicine Park" is set in 2000 and follows a down-and-out documentary filmmaker, Ray Wheeler, who travels to the cobblestone community to reluctantly film the comeback story of one of his former students-turned-aging-rock-and-roll star. The book's arc unfolds over a week-long period in Medicine Park and Lawton as Wheeler chronicles the return of Lena Wells while trying not to fall in love with her.
Squires said she chose Medicine Park as the setting for the book because of its unique personality and her history there.
"I like Medicine Park," she said. "I've always liked it. I think it's a neat little place. I always thought it was a great setting for a book because it's so unusual. One thing a lot of writers know if you have a sort of small, closed community setting, it creates a lot of tension and pressure in a story."
The Medicine Park of Squires' book is different from the town of today and even the town of 2000. Set before the community's renaissance, there's no Old Plantation Restaurant, no Cobblestone Row, no real tourist attraction to the Bath Lake swimming area. It's that sleepy, small-town atmosphere that Squires draws upon to create her world.
"There's no music festivals, no people visiting on a regular basis," she said. "It's just this sleepy little town that not a lot of people know about. Because anytime you set a work of fiction in a certain location, it's never quite real. You have to have the freedom to invent things that are really there."
Part of that invention and creative freedom involves rock starlet Wells, who has made her home in what is now the Old Plantation Inn. Squires said she fictionalized the residence, including a large back garden that doesn't exist and other features that wouldn't be possible in either 2000 or today. She said she fantasized about what living in the building would be like, so she used those musings in describing Wells' residence.
"The description of the place and describing it is extravagant," Squires said.
Squires chose to craft what she calls her "ode to both southwestern Oklahoma and rock music" as her second novel after working on it in bits and pieces over several years. She currently lives in Edmond, but was born at Fort Sill and has lived in Lawton and Southwest Oklahoma multiples times throughout her life. Squires said she still thinks of Lawton as her hometown. So after the success of her first book, "Along the Watchtower," she was ready to return to her childhood home and the characters who live there.