COLE DEMPSEY’S BACK IN TOWN comes out April 1st (available for pre-order now!!! LOL) and over the next week I’m going to post “memory clips” from writing the book. Only the entertaining ones, I promise. Not the ones where I was tearing my hair out over the plot and crying and threatening to throw myself off a bridge. 🙂
First up–tales from the research files! I grew up in the South so I’ve been around plantations all my life, taken field trips to plantations, toured plantations, and since I love history, I’ve read a lot about plantations. But I’ve never run a bed-and-breakfast business inside an historic plantation, which Bryn Louvel, my heroine, does. In particular, I needed to know about security at a plantation bed-and-breakfast for my story. Often these bed-and-breakfasts inside historic plantations are actually run by families with very small or NO staffs except in the case of large and well-moneyed plantations. Guests are often out and about touring other attractions in the area–so what do they do when they come back to the plantation? How do they get in? What if it’s late at night? Surely with these family-run plantations, people don’t stay up late waiting at the door to let guests in….. And surely they don’t hand out keys to the plantations or leave the mansion door unlocked considering the often priceless antiques housed inside.
I scoured plantation websites hoping to find some tidbit of info somewhere that would clue me in then finally realized I had no choice. I was going to have to cold-call plantations and ASK them about security. Any writer who has ever cold-called to ask a weird question knows how uncomfortable that is! Hello, I’m a WEIRDO, can you tell me the inside secrets to your security system? Yes, that goes over well!!! However, as I’m sure most writers discover, you CAN get people to answer even the most bizarre question if you can convince them that you are a writer and that you really aren’t planning to break into their mansion and steal the family jewels.
Answer to my research question: While this may vary from plantation to plantation, the one who answered my cold-call explained that no, small family-run plantation bed-and-breakfasts, as I suspected, do NOT hand out keys to guests. They have a schedule. Doors are locked at 10 pm. Guests who return after 10 pm ring a buzzer that connects to the family suite and a family member has to get up and let them in. They probably leave peas under their mattress to get them back. :hehe:
A few of the research books I found most useful (and all are available through Amazon):
(And see the post below about a special contest for an autographed copy of COLE!)