Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Inventing Rock Point

By special guest Clover Tate.

Being an author means making things up: what irritates a character or brings her joy; how a murder is carried out; and even something as basic as a pen name (my real name is Angela M. Sanders). For Blown Away, I invented a whole town.

And it was great! Blown Away features Strings Attached kite shop owner Emmy Adler in Rock Point, Oregon. I knew Rock Point would be on the coast. Thanks to ocean wind and the general lack of powerlines and trees, the beach is prime kite flying country. Since the Oregon coast is rugged, with steep cliffs and forest a stone’s throw away, I gave the town a small bay and a rocky outcropping that the town was named after.

Next, I had to populate it with buildings. Naturally, I needed a lighthouse. I put it on a cliff, right above the treacherous Devil’s Playpen (also invented, and a key locale in the second book in the series Live Free or Fly, out December 2017). I gave the town some fishermen’s shacks, a sprinkling of high-end beach houses, and a B&B in a Queen Anne house.   

Befitting an old town struggling to adapt to its new role as a tourist destination, I needed an antiques mall, the Brew House coffee shop (run by Emmy’s best friend, Avery), and a pizza parlor notable for the stinkiness of its pies. Add a closet-sized post office with a postmistress who knows everyone’s business; a sheriff’s storefront office; and a sprinkling of cabins in the woods, and Rock Point is nearly complete.

I had the most fun with two locales: Avery’s house (also Emmy’s home), and Strings Attached, Emmy’s kite shop.

I adore the romance of old houses, so right away I knew I wanted Avery to live in her family’s hundred-year-old bungalow in a copse of fir trees above the ocean. I gave it a huge stone fireplace and old-growth wooden joists that groan during storms. The leaky windows are charmingly fitted with wavy glass. The house has a deck with a killer sunset view and rickety stairs to the beach, where big rocks ring a firepit. The house’s constant need for repair gives Avery’s would-be boyfriend Dave a reason to hang around with his toolbox.

Finally, I put Strings Attached in the ground floor of a modest Victorian house a block from the ocean. No mini-mall location for Emmy. The sales area is in the house’s former living room and features stained glass windows, hardwood floors, beautiful moldings, and a fireplace. Emmy’s kite workshop—where she fulfills her real passion, designing and making kites—is in the roomy, sun-filled, eat-in kitchen. I imagine the smell of old wood and tang of ocean air mixing with the scent of Lapsang Souchong tea and a hint of fabric glue.

I can only hope you enjoy reading about Rock Point as much as I loved inventing it! If you were to invent your own town, where would it be? What would it look like?

Clover Tate is a pseudonym for Angela M.Sanders, who also writes The Booster Club Capers and The Vintage Clothing series.  

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