When local author Matty Dalrymple initially plotted her latest thriller, Rock Paper Scissors, she was beneath a curtain of blooming acacia and strolling alongside spurflowers at Longwood Gardens. The presto plot pace and hiccups of suspense stray far from a charming and simple walk among the flowers.
In the novel, Dalrymple’s young, self-aware protagonist, Lizzy Ballard, is born with powers that are beyond her control. Though her parents try to shelter her, they cannot escape Gerard Bonnay, the man responsible for Lizzy’s ability, from abusing her power and using it for his own personal gain. As the plot progresses, the antagonist picks off characters, one by one. In a game with no clear winners and high stakes, Dalrymple’s character must find a way to forfeit.
The game of hide-and–seek between the characters takes place in some familiar locations to Main Liners, as well as some other locations throughout Pennsylvania. The motel where Dalrymple’s protagonist hides away is based on the Spruce Lane Lodge and Cottages near Smoketown Airport, in the Lancaster area. Dalrymple went there for a weekend to write a scene in which Lizzy is hiding from Gerard. To paint a clear image of the setting through the lens of her character, Dalrymple took note of the hum of the radiator and the vision of planes ready for lift off or landing to help place the reader in the scene.
“I went somewhere familiar to me to write from the view of suspense. The teenager in this novel is hiding from the bad guy, and so in this slightly fictionalized version of the local motel, the details act as clues to help the reader immerse themselves in the world of the novel. You can pick the right location to get the right response you’re hoping to get from the reader,” she says.
A Chester County resident for 25 years, Dalrymple writes with the hopes of connecting to local readers. “Anything that can connect a reader to a story is ultimately good, and setting is a great way to do that. The draw for people who have a relationship to the location is a fun guessing game the familiar settings provide,” she says.
Other area locations include the fictitious William Penn University, based on the University of Pennsylvania, and The Philadelphia Chronicle, a fictional version of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Longwood Gardens and 30th Street Station also play roles in the novel—one serving as a retreat, and the other serving as a form of escape, respectively.
To celebrate the launch of Rock Paper Scissors, Dalrymple will be at Kildare’s Irish Pub in West Chester on March 3.