In a past life, I was probably a southern writer. There is something about the female southern authors, from Harper Lee and Flannery O’Connor to Fannie Flagg, Alice Walker, Rita Mae Brown and Kaye Gibbons, that resonate with me. These women wrote – and write – with the conviction that place is as important to story as the development of any character. Another constant threads in their writing is that family and a sense of community are imperative as tools to move the story forward.
While I am a Philadelphian by birth and a Santa Monician by choice, I wanted to take a swing at writing a trilogy that took place in a classic setting in order to further explore these ideas Even though my first book series, THE VENICE BEACH ROMANCES takes place in California, I tried to infuse the books with not only comedy and romance, but the feel of Venice Beach. The changes in Suzanna, Erinn and Virginia (my protagonists) lives are as important as how “boy gets girl.”. In my new novel, I wanted to tell a story about a group of eccentric strangers thrown together – seemingly at the whim of a dead billionaire – who have to live out six months in a deserted ghost town in order to earn a substantial cash bequest. I had the elements for my “community feel”, growth opportunity for my main characters, and lots of avenues for romances to develop.
What I didn’t have was my “place”.
The thought of setting my new story in the Deep South was a little daunting. I believe in the old adage, “write what you know” – and I really didn’t know The South well enough to “sell it.” But I did know – and loved Texas. Texans seem to still believe that you make your own destiny. Since that was the underlying theme of the new book, Texas seemed like the perfect place. The Hill Country of Texas became a scrappy, fierce and independent character with a mind of her own. Maybe my past-life-writer-self wrote about the bayou and mint juleps, but her spirit burns bright in bringing out Fat Chance, Texas.
For champion professional knitter Dymphna Pearl, inheriting part of a sun-blasted ghost town in the Texas hill country isn’t just unexpected, it’s a little daunting. To earn a cash bequest that could change her life, she’ll have to leave California to live in tiny, run-down Fat Chance for six months—with seven strangers. Impossible! Or is it?
Trading her sandals for cowboy boots, Dymphna dives into her new life with equal parts anxiety and excitement. After all, she’s never felt quite at home in Santa Monica anyway. Maybe Fat Chance will be her second chance. But making it habitable is going take more than a lasso and Wild West spirit. With an opinionated buzzard overlooking the proceedings and mismatched strangers learning to become friends, Dymphna wonders if unlocking the secrets of her own heart is the way to strike real gold…
Celia Bonaduce is a producer on HGTV’s House Hunters. She is the author of the Venice Beach Romances and lives in Santa Monica, CA, with her husband in a beautiful, “no-pets” building. She wishes she could say she has a dog. You can contact Celia at www.celiabonaduce.com.