The Place: A Novel Comes to Life in the Ozarks

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 1:21 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Welcome to El Dorado Springs. A small town in the Ozarks with a population of about 3,500 people and place where author, Kathie Truitt decided to rewrite her own story.

“A lot of people that interviewed me were identifying me as a psych thriller or true crime writer and I did not want to be known as that,” Truitt said.

Her first book, False Victim, is a true story about what happened to her and her son back when they were living in Washington D.C.

“My son and I were stalked by a neighbor woman from the time he was six until he was ten,” she explained.

After the novel came out, it became popular enough to get picked up by Lifetime television network and was made into a movie called The Neighbor in the Window. But Truitt wanted to be known as more than just a true crime writer and that’s when she got the idea for her second book.

“I was very homesick and I just kind of thought, what if I wrote about my hometown and I just made up these character. I just wrote about the way I wanted life to be,” said Truitt.

In this fiction novel, we follow the journey of Molly, a young woman living in Washington D.C. who’s married to a senator. She needs to return home to El Dorado Springs, Missouri to help get his numbers back up in the county. When she gets back in town, they find a man is going to turn a building into a strip club. The town was not having it, so Molly’s family decides to buy it and turn it into a café. All it needed was a name, which came from a man Truitt bumped into in real life at a White House Christmas party.

Truitt explained, “He said, interesting combination for that dress. Most people are in black, you’re in pink, and he goes, I bet you were a debutante. I just kind of laughed and I said, I grew up in a small Ozark town there’s no such thing as a debutante ball there. He goes, he didn’t miss a beat. He goes ‚ah, you’re a hillbilly debutante.”

And thus, the Hillbilly Debutante Café was born, but it wasn’t enough to just create the building in words. After she moved back to El Dorado Springs, Truitt drove by a certain building and got an idea to help bring more traffic to the small town.

“What would happen if we brought the book to life,” she pondered.

After several months of planning, Truitt made her dream come true with a bit of a twist.

“I started off with a mercantile and a boutique and I thought, I need something that people can come in and connect with each other and I’m thinking I can’t do a cafe, but I can do pie,” she said.

Not only is there an abundance of pie flavors, but you can also snack on other sweets like cookies and cupcakes and wash them down with the best sweet tea on this side of the Mississippi. Though people flock to the building for the delicious treats, they also come for the great company.

“Any given time here at this bar, it’s usually full. You have people that don’t know each other that are meeting, we’ve had a couple fall in love, it’s wonderful to see people exchange names and phone numbers,” Truitt said.

Which is exactly what she was hoping for when she opened the place.

“It’s kind of like being on a movie set. When you see everything happening and you see all these people working and you know it’s because you took the time to put pen to paper,” she explained.

Now Truitt has another label to add to the many others she’s acquired in her life as an author.

“For the first time in years, I’m not known as that woman that had the movie, or that woman that was stalked. I’m known as, oh that woman that wrote the funny book about that town,” said Truitt.

The Hillbilly Debutante Café did get an offer to be made into a movie, but Truitt decided the producer’s vision didn’t match hers. She is now working on her second book, Murder in the Mercantile.

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