While on vacation, my husband returned to his seat at the counter of a bustling seafood restaurant to find me accepting a napkin from a stranger who’d hastily written his phone number on it.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Scandalous! (The expression on my husband’s face said the same, haha.)
To put your mind at ease, here’s the scoop:
We were on vacation and while my husband stepped away, I—and several others at the counter—began chatting with the stranger and learned that he was an art restorer for the famed Hearst Castle in nearby San Simeon, California.
Hearing his story and what he did for a living made me giddy. And I decided right then that I wanted to have an art restorer in a future book. So, I asked him for a way to contact him with questions.
See? Not so bad, really.
Soon after, I contracted with B&H Publishing to write three romances set on California’s central coast. The first two in the Otter Bay series, Sweet Waters and A Shore Thing, contain brief mentions of the castle, but it’s the third book—Fade to Blue—where I was able to pour everything I learned about this magnificent property into a story. (I toured it myself and took gobs of notes.)
Suz Montgomery first appears in A Shore Thing (book 2), when she and her son, Jeremiah, need a place to stay. Her full story is told in Fade to Blue, when she begins a job restoring art for the castle. (Squee!)
Hearst Castle was commissioned by William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper magnate from the early 1900s. With the help of architect Julia Morgan, the estate was built over a thirty-year period, and often hosted celebrities and dignitaries. Exotic animals also lived on the property (and even now you can find zebras roaming about.)
La Cuesta Encantada, as it’s often called (Spanish for Enchanted Hill), is home to about a quarter million artifacts from all over the world, preserved and restored for generations to view. And recently, after a two-year pandemic closure, it has reopened for visitors.
Yay for that!
This reopening got me thinking about my Otter Bay series, because recently I renovated these beach reads with beautiful new covers from Tugboat Design. So … I guess you could say, I performed my own restoration of work from an earlier time 😉.
If you’ve never read the Otter Bay Novels, the first book, Sweet Waters, happens to be free on Amazon TODAY only. (I’m sorry that I’m unable to extend it!) But if you’re on KU, you can download the entire collection with your subscription at any time.
Now, I have questions for you. Have you ever been to Hearst Castle? What was your favorite part? (I love the pools!) And if you haven’t, what questions do you have? I’ll try my best to answer.