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Monday, June 26, 2017

Author Guest Post - Juliette Blackwell

Ms. Blackwell has been a guest of this blog since the beginning.  We are excited to welcome her back to share how she came up with the fascinating setting of her newest book in the series.

On Ideas, Lighthouses, and Strong Women

“Where do you get your ideas?”

This is one of the most common questions a writer is asked, and I wish I had a good

The truth is, I can’t stop with the ideas. Whether people-watching in parks or on public transportation, from stories in the newspaper or on the radio, or sparked by some overheard bit of conversation or a strange turn of phrase ….no matter what, in the course of my everyday life I see waaaay more ideas than I could ever use in my books.

Case in point: several years ago I noticed a want-ad for a couple interested in running the historic East Brother lighthouse in the San Francisco Bay, which had been turned into a rather idiosyncratic bed and breakfast. The ad specifically asked for two people, and at least one had to have a Coast Guard boat piloting license.  Further, they should enjoy “cooking, history, basic maintenance, and hospitality.”

A want-ad for a lighthouse keeper/B&B host? What a great set-up for a novel!  Also…who knew there was a functioning lighthouse in San Francisco Bay?

I spoke to my sister, the historian, who mentioned that many women became lighthouse keepers back in the day. In fact, this was one of the only professions in which women could earn the same money as their male counterparts. Usually the women had been the wives or daughters of the original male keeper, had served as his unofficial assistants, and then inherited the demanding job when the man died or
was incapacitated.

Fascinated, I made my way to Point San Pablo, the
secluded houseboat community that serves as the departure dock for the lighthouse island, and –my notepad always
at the ready-- talked to a few of the residents before climbing aboard the small boat that ferries passengers over to the island to roam the grounds. The island location is gorgeous, of course, and the Victorian lighthouse and residence is stunning. Also, lighthouse keepers kept careful logs – a rich font of information. (Read more about East Brother Lighthouse, and see some great photos, here:

This was years ago, mind you, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the charming little lighthouse in the Bay, which most people whiz by on the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge without even noticing. Finally, I found the perfect opportunity to put the locale to use, in my latest Haunted Home Renovation book, A GHOSTLY LIGHT.

Of course, I took a bit of artistic license with East Brother Lighthouse and Point San Pablo, and as I wrote the story began to careen and twist the way all good mysteries
do. But how better to use the setting and history of the East Brother Lighthouse than to create the fictional need for its thorough renovation?

In A GHOSTLY LIGHT, Mel Turner, general contractor extraordinaire, steps in to fix up a dilapidated lighthouse in the San Francisco Bay when her friend, Alicia, gets the
financial backing to transform it into an inn. But Mel’s not only gifted with a hammer; she’s also able to see ghosts. And who’s ever heard of a lighthouse without a resident ghost (or two?) Soon Mel’s trying to figure out how to placate the island’s agitated spirit – a woman lighthouse keeper-- while searching for buried treasure, uncovering the fate of a long-ago missing boy, and exonerating her friend Alicia, who
now stands accused of killing her violent ex-husband.

Just a week in the life of Mel Turner, reluctant ghost-buster.

And now I have a few ideas for the next book…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thank you Ms. Blackwell, always a pleasure to have you visit!  I loved the setting of the lighthouse island for this mystery.  My review will be coming in a few days.

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Mystica said...

What a gem of an idea and how it has blossomed! sounds a page turner.

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