This is why: a little town named in a widely-read novel might become a destination for literary voyeurs. I don’t want to be responsible for changing the character of a quiet, rural place. Also, if I set my story in an actual small town in Kentucky (or Arizona, or Mexico), those events would be false: everyone would know that in the history of their town no man named Hardbine had ever been blown over the Standard Oil sign by an exploding tire, for example. Still, every soul in the named town would be scouring the pages for themselves, their friends and enemies, and finding them. (Even though I didn’t put them there.) So I choose real settings but place them off the map, for two reasons: to preserve the illusion of truth, and the substance of privacy.