keep your toe away from the faucet


I was doing a Countdown to Cole but it appeared in stores sooner than I expected! (GO GET IT! You know you want to!) So I guess now I’m doing a Celebrating Cole. πŸ˜€

Cole Dempsey’s Back in Town is set in a murky, moss-draped antebellum plantation in Lousiana where secrets and lies have covered up the truth about a murder for fifteen years. Here’s a bit of trivia about me: I once lived in an antebellum plantation for ten months. My father was a Church of Christ minister and up until I was I was nine years old–when my father started buying his own homes–we lived in church-provided homes. The year I was in second grade my father took a job preaching for a church in Alabama. Next door to the church was an old antebellum mansion and the church owned it. The surrounding land had once been a plantation. It was, bar none, the most awesome home I’ve ever lived in. Massively tall ceilings and windows, columned portico, fireplaces in every room, Scarlett O’Hara staircase, the works. This being the 1970s, my mother went in and painted my (gigantic) bedroom, including my fireplace, pink, and she painted my sister’s room lavender. We were quite colorful. 😯 She hung coordinating bead strings from the windows. There was a well in the sideyard and a coach entrance.

Unfortunately, I was in second grade, so I didn’t really appreciate it. I was also terrified the entire time we lived there because everyone said the house was haunted. There were numerous ghost stories associated with people who’d lived in the house in the past, and my older brother was kind enough to regale his little sisters with the ghosts he said he saw in the house at night. I was particularly worried about taking baths because one of the ghosts was said to have died by getting his toe stuck in the tub faucet. How that can result in death, I’m not sure, but that was not the point! He was haunting the bathroom, you know….with his toe stuck in the faucet….

10 things I remember about living in a plantation mansion:

1. Some bad person ran over my brand new bike in the street and didn’t stop.
2. My mother taught me to make bread in that house.
3. None of my friends believed me when I said I lived in that house and one day some of them followed me home from school to watch me and see if I actually went IN.
4. Someone stole all my pencils at school.
5. My sister and I hid behind the bushes and watched our brother kiss our first cousin at the well. Luckily their love died before they married and had mutant children.
6. My brother was a budding modern artist and I would throw mud on his canvases for him before he painted his wild patterns on them. I guess he liked bumps in his paintings. I just thought the mud-throwing part was fun.
7. I never got to have a fire in the fireplace in my bedroom and I’ve never had a fireplace in my bedroom since then.
8. My mother always got mad at us for sliding down the banister. But how could we resist?
9. There was a really cool sun dial in the backyard but I could never figure it out.
10. My sister had a windowseat in her room and I didn’t. Life was so unfair.

About six years ago I took my children on a cross-country trip and we stopped in Alabama on the way. I wanted to see that house again. I was shocked to discover it was gone, and upon some investigation I learned that the church had sold the mansion and it had been moved to another town. Who knew you could move a house that size?! Apparently you can! I stood on the bare ground where the house had been and wondered if the ghosts had gone with it…..


  1. kacey says:

    Cool story about the house! Don’t you wish you could have been older and really appreciated it while you live there? Did you ever figure out where it got moved to?

    Of course if you had been older, you might not have all those “I’m scared of ghosts” memories!:shock:

  2. Robyn says:

    That house sounds like it is ‘to die for’.
    Wow, I bet it was lovely! Do you still
    bake bread?

  3. Suzanne says:

    I was told the house was moved to Birmingham. I’d love to be able to find it!

    Robyn, yes, I still bake bread! I love to bake bread. And smell the baking bread. And eat the hot-from-the-oven bread…..

  4. Deana says:

    This is funny because I grew up living in CoC parsonages and always fantasized about my dad getting a job at a church with a really cool one! We had some that were pretty nice — but nothing like your mansion. My parents didn’t buy a house of their own til I was in junior high. It was nice to finally get to put posters on the walls — that was a no-no while living in the church houses. They didn’t want holes in the walls.

    No ghosts in our houses, but we did live in a parsonage that was across the street from our church, which was haunted. My dad would work in his office late at night and on several occasions heard the old congregation singing.

  5. Suzanne says:

    Deana, my mother must have had a little bit of rebel in her since she always went right in and did whatever she wanted to with the church houses. I bet they were appalled after we moved out and they saw my pink fireplace!

  6. kate says:

    do you suppose that amazing house had anything to do with your decision to write romances?

  7. Jill says:

    You’ve had so many cool and interesting experiences!

  8. Suzanne says:

    Kate, hmmm….. I don’t know. I always wanted to be a writer, before we ever lived in that house. My mother gave me romances to read, so I think that was the primary influence that led me to write romance.

  9. Katie says:

    We had a friend who lived in a parsonage with a cemetery behind it. Doing the ghost thing was the best part about spending the night at her house!
    Would have loved a picture of the pink fireplace!:shock:

  10. Sharon says:

    Mmm bread. I LOVE bread. and cheese πŸ˜†

    I lived in La all my life. Love those old plantation homes.

  11. Amy K. says:

    Very cool story! I’d love to see a picture of it if you have any.

  12. Suzanne says:

    I need to get one of those cool fax/copier/scanner things so I can scan old photos. I’m really wanting one of those multi-machines that do it all!

  13. Katie says:

    So I had to go start bread rising. THANKS. My hips really needed that!

  14. Charlene says:

    I have this compulsion to go buy Cole Dempsey…

    Nice house story, Suzanne! Ghost and all.

  15. Sasha says:

    I picked up Cole today! πŸ™‚

    Okay, I picked up his book, not him, today. lol

  16. Michelle says:

    I once stayed in a plantation in Charlottesville, VA. It was converted into a bed and breakfast and for whatever odd reason–there weren’t enough beds for our family in the room, as promised. Instead, I got to stay by myself in a romantic canopy bed, in a room that had a private bathroom, chaise lounge, and it overlooked the front where the carriages used to circle. I loved every minute of that room. It was such a girly, romantic room. I was 14. Heaven.

  17. Robyn says:

    Cool that you still bake bread! I bake buns but have baked bread only once.
    Today I received the book from you ‘Her Man To Remember’ that I won on this blog for posting. Thanks so much Suzanne.

  18. Vicki says:

    I bet the ghost with his toe stuck in the faucet had to go with the house. πŸ˜†

    Did I tell you I ordered Cole the day before yesterday? πŸ™‚