Between canning pickles and baking pies and keeping house in rural Northern California, my grandmother was a big reader. I couldn’t understand why she’d spend so much time with a book when she could be down at the creek skipping stones or picking blackberries like my siblings and I did.
“Honey,”she’d tell me, “Sometimes I just like to get away.”
As I wrote each of the books in the kite shop mystery series, I remembered my grandmother’s words. I aimed to create a world readers couldn’t wait to escape to. As a bonus, I’d be living in that world, too, each time I sat at my laptop to write.
First, I set Rock Point in a fishing village on Oregon’s coast, which means lush forest on one side and a stretch of the wild and magnificent Pacific Ocean on the other. Naturally, I put a lighthouse atop a rocky cliff just north of town.
I made sure Emmy’s best friend Avery had a rustic home surrounded by fir trees, just like I’d want to visit if I were going to the coast. I gave the house a deck with the perfect sunset view. Hey, if I’m going to write it, I might as well enjoy the view, too! And, naturally, she has a stone fireplace and a sleeping porch.
Strings Attached, Emmy’s kite shop, is in a Victorian house. I love the stories of people who once lived in older homes—you can read about old Mrs. Rasmussen in Live and Let Fly—and I adore their handcrafted details of carved wood trim and stained glass windows. In Wuthering Heights, I move Emmy to an apartment above the shop so she can live with the atmosphere everyday. (Naturally, she has French windows with a view of the bay.)
I also give Rock Point the Brew House, just the type of coffee house I’d love to visit. It has mismatched, cozy furniture, jazz playing on the turntable, and an excellent tuna melt. As a counterpoint, I placed a dive bar, the Rock Point Tavern, in town, too. To the delight of Rock Point’s residents, the tavern’s owner brings his senior cocker spaniel Duchess to the bar and hides her from the health department.
In Wuthering Kites, I widened Emmy’s world by taking her to Oregon’s wine country. I wanted to introduce readers to the Willamette Valley’s gorgeous countryside of rolling hills, orchards, and vineyards. Being a former country girl myself, it was fun to recreate the sounds and scents of an autumn walk through the woods.
If you read Wuthering Kites or any of the kite shop mysteries (Blown Away and Live and Let Fly are the first two in the series), I hope they transport you to a world of suspense and mystery, but also to one of friendships, warmth, beautiful landscapes, and a town you wouldn’t mind visiting—if it existed, that is. Once in a while, everyone deserves a good escape.