Several years ago, we took a camping trip to a little town in Virginia called Staunton, which is actually pronounced Stanton. Virginia is full of cities and towns with names that are pronounced completely differently from how they look spelled out. It was a real learning curve for us to become “locals” in our home state. The city of Staunton sits at the side of the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, something we didn’t know when we randomly chose that location to take our trip. We spent several days exploring the area, driving the Blue Ridge Parkway and learning the history of the area. We are both southern transplants so the years we’ve lived by the ocean translated into an intense ache for the beauty of rolling hills and tree filled valleys. I fell in love with Staunton and the Blue Ridge Mountains on that trip. They became a favorite setting for my books, second only to beautiful beaches of southern Virginia.
Murder on the Mountain, the first book in the Marshall Brothers series, fully takes advantage of the lush, green mountains and quaint, picturesque town. Rising star and talented investigative reporter Emma Thompson has reluctantly returned home with a tarnished reputation and a questionable future. She needs a really big break to regain her stronghold once again in the world of journalism. So, when Staunton is rumored to be a drop spot for a major crime cartel, Emma jumps at the chance to investigate. Following a lead from a questionable source, she ends up witnessing a murder and is left with no choice but to turn to the one man she’d hoped to avoid the rest of her life for help, Detective Adam Marshall. It turns out he’s leading a multi-agency task force to investigate the very same criminal syndicate as Emma. They just have to put the past aside to protect her and give her a future.
There are several historical preservations along the Blue Ridge Parkway that are open to tourists. Although I chose to fictionalize mine, the old abandoned mill with the water wheel pays homage to these stone cottages and other structures nestled deep along the mountainsides. There’s a restaurant in Staunton called Mrs. Rowe’s that is famous for its pies, bread puddings and other deserts. Emma’s uncle owns Pop’s Diner in Staunton modelled after Mrs. Rowe’s and he is famous for his burgers and fries. As I write this article, we are planning a road trip there this weekend to get baked goods and drive along the parkway. I’ll take plenty of photos and notes for my next book in the series.
I have lived many places in my life. I grew up in upper state New York. I spent my early twenties in Connecticut, taking the train to New York City on the weekends for Broadway shows, museums and visits to Central Park. When I got married, we lived near the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. We now call southern Virginia home and are within a few miles of many beautiful ocean beaches in Virginia and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I feel fortunate to have been able to experience so many amazing places. My mom used to tell me I inherited a bit of a Gypsy soul from my father and while moving as often as I’d like isn’t practical at this point in my life, living in places like Staunton with my stories is the next best thing for sure.
I hope you’ll pick up a copy of my latest release, “Murder on the Mountain” today!