Kinsey Milhone lives in a studio apartment over her friend Henry’s garage. Travis McGee lives on the Busted Flush, a houseboat he won in a poker game. Holmes and Watson live at 221B Baker Street. The places are as iconic as the sleuths.
Wickeds, when you picked your sleuth’s home, what did you pick and why? Is it modeled on a real place or purely a product of your imagination?
Liz: The Victorian home Stan lives in is modeled on a real place – an adorable, mint green Victorian on the real town green around which I modeled the stories. Stan saw the house purely by chance and fell in love with it. She felt it really embodied small-town living and the new reality she wanted to create for herself. Plus the house overlooks the green, where lots of important town events–and gossip!–happen regularly.
Edith: When I first imagined my Quaker midwife, Rose Carroll and the Bailey family she lives with, I knew they lived in my house in Amesbury! It was built in 1880 for the people who worked in the Hamilton Mills just a block away. I love writing the scenes that take place at home. For my farmer Cam Flaherty, I’d seen an antique saltbox in the next town and that became her farm house. And Robbie Jordan lives at the back of her country store restaurant in southern Indiana, which is directly modeled on the Story Inn in Story, Indiana (about which I have written before).
Barb: Julia Snowden’s been in four published books and lived in three places. In Clammed Up and Boiled Over, she lives in her childhood bedroom at her mother’s house. The description of that house is kinda-sorta based on the dwelling pictured at left which is actually an inn in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. But it’s also, kinda-sorta based on that most romantic of houses to little girls from my era, the house Hayley Mills and her family move to in Beulah, Maine in the Disney movie, Summer Magic.
In Musseled Out, Julia lives in the little house by the dock on Morrow Island, and in Fogged Inn, she lives in the studio apartment over Gus’s restaurant. In the novella, “Nogged Off” coming October 25th, in the collection, Eggnog Murder, we even get to go to Manhattan to see Julia’s former apartment there.
Jessie: In my new Change of Fortune series set in Old Orchard, ME in 1898 the protagonist Ruby Proulx lives in her aunt’s hotel. The hotel is a small compared to the others in the area and Ruby’s aunt decides that in order to stay in business she needs to offer a special experience. She hires a staff of paranormal practioners like astrologers and mediums in order to cater to Spiritualists and other metaphysical enthusiasts. I’ve loved outfitting the hotel with a ladies’ writig room, a library and a seance room. I’ve imagined the Hotel Belden to look a bit like, and to be placed in the same spot, as a real building. Minnie’s Seaside Rest was built in 1896 by a Mrs. Charles Green as an affordable retreat for missionaries on leave from overseas.
Sherry: Sarah didn’t have a lot of places to pick from when she moved off base and into Ellington, Massachusetts during her divorce. But she found an apartment in a house that had been converted to a four-plex. The real house that I based it on doesn’t have a covered porch but I’ve added one. Her apartment is on the second story and overlooks the town common. I love when I go back to Bedford, the town Ellington is based on, people ask me which house is Sarah’s. Here it is!
Readers: What’s your favorite fictional house? Have you been to any of the places where we set our books – either the real town or the area where our fictional towns are set? Did you want to go find the protagonist’s home?
I confess, I’d love to do a tour of Boston with Robert Parker’s Spencer.
I would go on that.
Love this post! I have to admit to being lazy when it comes to houses. I’ve used variations of five houses, all of which I’ve lived in, for almost all the houses of various protagonists–the house I live in now, the house I grew up in, the house my in-laws owned when I was first married, and the houses each set of grandparents owned. That said, I sure wish I had more photos of the interiors of all of them. Memory is extemely fickle. On the bright side, what I can’t remember, I can make up.
That is so cool, Kathy! I grew up in a ranch house so nothing to exotic to use!
Photos of the inside, right? I didn’t start scrapbooking until my kids were nearly grown, so it wasn’t until then I realized they needed photos of their rooms and other special places in houses gone by. Now I call that the “B roll.”
So much fun to see these places! Is there a pizza/roast beef place across the green from Sarah’s house?
I still remember how thrilling it was to visit The House of the Seven Gables when I was a little girl.
I can’t believe I never went through The House of the Seven Gables. I also would love to see Mark Twain’s house and Edith Whartons.
Both Mark Twain’s house and the Mount are spectacular.
I’d love to visit Jim Qwilleran’s four-story apple barn summer home in “The Cat Who” series. In my Witch City Mystery series the house on Winter Street where Lee and Aunt Ibby and O;Ryan live is based on a real house on the real Winter Street. It was home of a childhood playmate and I loved it. I’ve altered it a bit for the books, but it is still vivid in my memory. I’ve tried to find my old friend to tell her about the books, but haven’t found her. Judy Adams, where are you?
It’s amazing how vivid those childhood memories stay.
Meg Corey moved into a house that looks just like the one my 7x-great-grandpa built in 1760–yes, it’s real (but the barn is long gone), and I’ve explored it from cellar to attic (would you believe they re-used housing timber in 1760?). Maura Donovan (why is everyone I talk to here named Donovan?) inherited the former Connolly house not far from here (which, sadly, is falling down, and is so overgrown you can’t even tell there’s a house under all the foliage–I checked last week). For the one Nell and James bought, I kind of borrowed a gorgeous Victorian I found online, for sale, so I could “walk” through it (I just picked it up and moved it to another neighborhood). For Relatively Dead, Ned (and now Abby) live in a Victorian fixer-upper in Lexington MA which looks very much like the house I live in now, only larger (and there’s no cemetery behind mine).
What a wonderful mix of the real and imagined. Thank goodness for those online house tours. (Plus, I am really nosy.)
Years ago, I visited a couple of places where fictional sleuths live. When I was reading Jerrilyn Farmer’s Madeline Bean mysteries, I discovered that her home was based on a real home in Hollywood. I got the address from Jerrilyn and drove by one night. The address is still in the back of my car somewhere if I ever want to go back.
And I’ve been to Trixie Belden’s house. Julie Campbell based it on the house she was living in on Glendale Road outside of Ossining, New York. For the first Trixie Belden Convention, the current owners let us come look at it. We couldn’t go inside, but we did get to tour the grounds and take pictures, which was absolutely spectacular and so nice of them.
I drive through Ossining all the time on my way to my brother’s house in Pennsylvania. I may have to take a detour.
Last I knew, the house was for sale.
That’s so cool, Mark!
Like you Barb, I loved the movie Summer Magic and that beautiful yellow house!
So glad to find another fan!
Of course Tara comes to mind, who wouldn’t want to visit? But I think I would like to see the Armenian neighborhood on Cavanaugh Street, where Gregor Demarkian grew up and where he returned after his wife died to start an new career as a private detective.
I love ethnic enclaves in books. I think the Stephanie Plum books are really about the Burg and a way of life that is disappearing.
One of the houses I loved was from the T.V. version of Robert B. Parker’s SPENCER, Spencer for Hire; with the sexy Robert Urich. Spencer had a few different living spaces in the short series, I loved them all but my favorite was the firehouse, I think season 2, I loved when he drove the Mustang inside.
They are great books and it was a fun TV show! I don’t usually like both!
I’ve had an opposite experience. I’ve loved visiting a small village for over fifteen years. One of my favorite houses was a small stone cottage just on the outskirts of the town, when the road widened to a highway. It had been built on a small bluff before the widening, so now it was only a few yards away from the road. What I particularly liked about the stone house, which looked like it came straight out of a story book, was that it was a visual way to remind a driver that you were leaving the McMansioned area and headed to the magical centuries-old village. A few years ago I picked up a novel that used the lovely village as a setting. The lovely house became the safe house for a drug dealer and his stripper girlfriend, neither of which had a happy ending. I still can’t look at the house the same way.
Oh, no! That is an interesting story though!
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