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Milwaukee Author Travels 'North of the Tension Line' into Small Town Life

The Washington Island Ferry travels from the tip of the Door County Peninsula to the island and into a different way of living.

Many of us have dreams of someday moving out of the city or the suburbs and settling down in a quiet place. The simplicity of rural America and small-town life is an appealing thought. But, as anyone who has actually lived in one of those places knows well, there's a difference between spending a week in a small town and actually living there.  

"People are very friendly in small towns, but there is a dynamic in life in the small towns that is best understood from an outsider's perspective," says Milwaukee writer J.F. Riordan.

Her North of the Tension Line books are set in and around Door County's Washington Island and feature the Islanders and all their quirks.

The title of the book series is also Washington Island's unofficial slogan, Riordan says. "It really is reflective of the attitude that you get," she explains. "For me at least, as soon as you set foot on that ferry, I feel as if all of the world has fallen away and everything else is just real life."

It is that exact dynamic that Riordan portrays in her series. The second books in the series, called The Audacity of Goats, was just released. Riordan will read from it in a launch event at Boswell Book Company Friday evening.