July 25, 2021

Newton native, author touts community in local-based novels

The best book settings originate from the places the author knows best — that’s why one Newton native and author continues to return to her hometown, where she tends to feel the most inspired.

An author of young adult fiction novels, Liz Costanzo-Morrison, hosted a book signing at the Newton Public Library, where she met a handful of interested readers.

Costanzo-Morrison grew up in Newton and is a 1980 Newton High School graduate. She also is an author of young adult fiction novels. Costanzo-Morrison attended the University of Iowa where she studied history and education.

Costanzo-Morrison is now a resident of St. Louis, Mo., and she has finished two novels. In her latest novel "Flashback," Costanzo-Morrison sets her novel in Newton from the year 1969 to the present.

“My dream is that the book will become more popular and everyone will want to visit Newton,” Costanzo-Morrison said.

A unique aspect to her books is the contemporary element of reincarnation. "Flashback" is about two teens who have dreams that seem more like memories.

“If you can get your reader emotionally involved you know the book is good,” Costanzo-Morrison said.

Multiple Newton residents were intrigued by Costanzo-Morrison’s idea to write about Newton.

“I made a bucket list and one of the first things on the list was to write a book. I started my first book “The Second Chance” not really knowing what I wanted to do with it but knowing how I wanted to end it.” she said. “I also looked for a publisher who really enjoyed my books.”

Another large aspect Costanzo-Morrison ties into her novels is historical events. She said she looked everywhere for a 1969 Newton High School yearbook while researching certain facts.

Each of Morrison’s novels focus on an important historical event, such as the Holocaust.

“People forget about these events if we don’t keep reminding them of our history,” Costanzo-Morrison said.

Many local landmarks are also featured in “Flashback”, such as the high school, the Jasper County Courthouse, Maid-Rite, Maytag, Iowa Speedway and the Valle Drive-In.

She also mentions the Pacesetters and the football team.

Her story gives an outlook on what it is like to live in Newton.

“I hope that the people who read my book think living in a small town sounds fun,” she said.

Costanzo-Morrison is currently working on a new novel, which is set in 2001 during the 9/11 attacks. She plans to have it published in January.