I grew up in Waterbury, a small city nestled in the Naugatuck Valley of Connecticut. One of our landmarks here is the Naugatuck River, infamous for nothing good.
In 1955, the river flooded, killing 47 people and resulting in millions of dollars of damage. My great-grandmother—my Biz Noni—used to tell me stories from that time, about how people stood on top of houses and factories while waiting for help. Thankfully my family’s home was safe, being on the top of a hill. But South Main Street—which is on lower ground and runs right along the river—completely flooded over. If you look closely, you can still see watermarks on some buildings.
These days we have flood control structures throughout the area, so it’s hard to imagine losing everything to nature’s wrath. But now we have a problem that is much more sinister.
Along the river are many factories. Some of those factories illegally dump their sewage and waste into the river. Growing up in the South End of Waterbury (which was built around the river), I can remember many, many days when the air smelled of sewage. We always joked that we knew we were home when the smell hit.
The river cleanup has been an ongoing process, mostly because people keep dumping into it. It seems like there is never, ever justice, and so the river is known for being dirty. We also used to joke that you should never fish in that river, and there were even rumors of mutants.
Of course, there aren’t any mutants, but that stuck with me. When I started fleshing out the River Reapers MC series, I needed a name for my club. Immediately the image of the Sludge Specter popped into my head. It’s a sludge-covered reaper that haunts the river, its eyes glowing with a thirst for revenge.
It’s also the patch that very few RRMC members earn when they prove they’ll do anything for the club—anything.
I decided to set the series in Naugatuck, another small city. Its city line hugs the end of the South End neighborhood. Like Waterbury, Naugatuck used to be a thriving industrial hub. Naugy just did a better job of reinventing itself. You can walk along Church Street, which is a super cute “main street” type stretch that hugs the Green and is lined with some great shops that took over vintage buildings.
There are some MCs in Naugy, but they aren’t quite as notorious as the ones in Waterbury, so it made sense to set my story there. (The first rule of writing MC romance is to never write about real life MCs, especially not one-percenters.) It also amused me greatly to stick a strip club in a town that would probably never approve one in real life.
Even though I grew up right next door to Naugy, I wasn’t too familiar with the area and had to do a lot of research, which I’ll talk about in another post, if you want me to.
And so the River Reapers MC was born, burying bodies along the Naugatuck River since sometime in the mid-Nineties. 😏
Binge the River Reapers MC Series
Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash