"Welcome Home" are the words on the poster for HBO's Sharp Objects — and the message is rather ominous for Amy Adams' character Camille Preaker. In Sharp Objects, the town of Wind Gap holds many dark secrets. Camille only returns to her Missouri hometown to investigate the disappearance of two girls. The HBO miniseries comes from the book by author Gillian Flynn. And anyone who has read or seen Flynn's Gone Girl or Dark Places knows that the author likes to place her gothic stories in the Midwest. Like North Carthage in Gone Girl, Wind Gap, Missouri, is not a real place — which should come as a relief to audiences when the violent town in Sharp Objects comes to life on July 8.
Camille is a reporter based in St. Louis (in the book, it's Chicago) when her editor sends her back to Wind Gap. She's there to cover the story of two missing teenagers, one who has been found dead. But returning to Wind Gap also means reuniting with her estranged mother Adora Crellin (portrayed by Patricia Clarkson), a socialite who runs the town. Flynn said in a 2012 interview with The Daily Beast that Sharp Objects is "a story about a mother and daughter and their toxic relationship, and the town that created both of them." In an interview with HBO, Flynn explained that, like the characters, this town is fictional. "It was largely imaginary," Flynn said. "It's not based on any particular town. But I knew I wanted [Wind Gap] to be a town of violence that Camille grew up in."
In a 2008 video interview with her British publisher, Orion Publishing Group, Flynn gave more information on the inspiration for Wind Gap. "I always had this idea of a haunted town. Kind of surrounded by woods and missing children and that sort of thing. I kept coming back to it — this almost kind of fairytale, haunted place deep in southern Missouri," Flynn said.
She added that the violence in the town stems from the female characters. "There's a lot of violence in the book — women who are violent and women who have issues. And that was always my intent was to have a little town that's populated and run by the women and dominated by the women. And that the women aren't necessarily all benevolent at all," Flynn said.
Flynn's settings for her novels come from her own hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. As she explained in her Orion interview, she thinks the "big, middle section" of the U.S. is "underseen in literature." But her firsthand knowledge of the area also helps paint a realistic picture even when the exact towns in her stories are fictional. For instance, Flynn told Southeast Missourian how her childhood experiences in the real-life Missouri border area of Bootheel influenced the setting in Sharp Objects.
"I know Missouri pretty well," Flynn said. "My parents were big into antiques and flea markets, so during the summer they would load me into the car and drive me around Missouri to different flea market and antique events. But I don't remember specific places in the Bootheel; I just remember the geography and the feel I had for it."
Flynn's setting also resonates with people from the area. For example, one Missouri reader asked Flynn on her Facebook page if the town of New Madrid served as an inspiration for New Gap. While Flynn didn't respond, another fan in the comments wondered if Cape Girardeau (where Gone Girl was filmed) could have also been an influence.
But the HBO miniseries didn't actually film in Missouri. Instead, The Herald-Gazette reported that Barnesville, Georgia stood in for Wind Gap. The publication shared photos of the town's evolution, complete with a Wind Gap barbershop, church, and BBQ restaurant. "The town is the perfect location for Wind Gap. It's lush and green just like my home state of Missouri, and it's almost as if the town was picked out of my own mind as I was writing the novel," Flynn told the Barnesville publication, according to GwinnettForum.com. "[HBO] couldn't have picked a better location for this story to come to life."
A quick Google search will reveal that there is a Wind Gap in Pennsylvania, but Camille's twisted hometown comes straight from the author's imagination. And while Flynn helps make Wind Gap feel like a true location due to her own Missouri roots, HBO's Sharp Objects will make you glad that no such place exists in the real world.