I just reread my 4th novel Cool Cache in preparation for reissuing the eBook with a new cover. It brought back memories of how I created Tucker Sinclair’s world.
On my first driving trip to Southern California, I remember cresting a hill on Pacific Coast Highway and seeing Malibu beach in all its breathtaking glory. I’ve been in love with the place ever since. In the early years living in Los Angeles, I made many trips there, wandering through the small shops or lunching in the restaurants. Sometimes I just sat on the beach and listened to the waves slamming the shore. It was magical. I wanted to live there. For a time, I worked in an office that overlooked the coastline. Even the occasional mudslide that blocked PCH for hours or days didn’t tarnish my love for the place.
So, when I began writing my Tucker Sinclair books I knew she had to live in the “Bu.” The actual house in which she lives is modeled on a home I saw in Oxnard. It was, as I describe in the novels, “a little brown shoebox on the sand.” And it was for sale. It was dwarfed on both sides by mini mansions, so I suspected the buyer would tear it down and build something bigger and grander. It saddened me, thinking about all the memories that would be hauled away in rusty Dumpsters.
I decided the house and all those family memories would live on in Tucker’s house. No photos were taken of the Oxnard house, so I took a field trip to Malibu to scout out a replacement. The pic of the two Adirondack chairs on the beach in the upper left corner of my website was taken on that field trip. The place below was not the same as the Oxnard house but it was similar. The chain-link fencing around the perimeter suggested it was also not long for this world.
Once the exterior of Tucker's house was set, I moved on to the interior. Thumbing through American’s Best-Selling Home Plans, I found the perfect layout. It even had Tucker's home office just as I'd imagined it and the deck and side entrance featured in all the books.
|The architect was reading my mind|
Now the house was ready to fill with family memories. I cut out magazine photos of objects that triggered memories and made up stories about them: a bowl of seashells collected by family members over the years,
|shee shells by the shee shore|
a braided kitchen-rooster rug that belonged to a grandmother Tucker had never known
and a steamer trunk passed down through the generations, filled with camera equipment once owned by Tucker's father who died before she was born.
|I have one just like this that belonged to my grandmother|
The fake wicker deck furniture, a Tucker purchase, because even plastic degrades in sun and salt air
|Those white patches are the result of me prying the pic off the poster board|
I also cut out photos of people who reminded me of characters in the book, all of which I glued to a poster board I kept near my computer.
Perhaps some of you are wondering if all this preparation was just an excuse not to write, but, in fact, it helped me create an authentic world for characters with whom I’d be intimately involved for years to come. Tucker's house is more than just a place to live. It represents love, loss and the fragility of family relationships, all themes woven throughout the series.