Sunday, June 14, 2015

Going Home

Though I grew up in Bucks County, where the golden retriever mysteries are set, I hadn’t been back since I started writing the books. I had the chance this spring to travel to Pennsylvania and I took advantage of that trip to spend a couple of days in New Hope, drive around and take a lot of pictures.
There are a couple of regular locations that show up in the mysteries, often based on real places in my hometown of Yardley. One of those is the Continental Tavern.
It’s at the corner of Main and Ferry streets, by the only traffic light in town. I’ve reconfigured it a bit as The Drunken Hessian, a reference to the tipsy soldiers Washington took advantage of on December 26, 1776. I’d forgotten that there are two stories on top of the bar—I wonder what I can use them for in the future?
Another recurring location is Gail Dukowski’s café on Main Street, the Chocolate Ear. Gail is actually the first of the Stewart’s Crossing characters to have come to me, in a (so-far) failed novel called More Than Chocolate, which tells the story of how she returned to Bucks County after a successful career as a pastry chef in Manhattan.

This isn’t the building I’d initially used as a model for the café, but it’s much more like the one that actually appears in the books. I changed the name but Gail’s still there, along with the supporting characters from her book who pop up now and then in the golden retriever mysteries. Perhaps someday I’ll get around to revising that early book.
In the books, the green awning is the same, as well as the multi-paned glass windows, but Gail has also put some white wrought-iron café tables and chairs outside. Rochester needs to be able to go to the café, so he can meet with characters and sniff out clues, but he can’t go inside. Another reason why so many of the books take place in spring, summer and fall!
Finally, I was distressed to discover that one of my favorite businesses, which I’ve referred to in several books, had changed hands and changed names. When I was growing up we often stopped at Gerenser’s Ice Cream on Main Street in New Hope, where they were the first place I knew to come up with exotic flavors of ice cream. One of my favorites was African Violet, which I probably liked just because it was purple.
At least the new store has a name that fits in with the punny theme of my books!

I hope you enjoy your summer! If you haven’t read all six books in the series, they’re fun, light reads. I hope to have Honest to Dog, number 7, ready some time this fall. Already finished a first draft, but there's still a lot to do to make it a great book.
The Continental Tavern

Main Street Pizza Parlor

A great house on Main Street in Yardley

This was once a bank, now a brewpub

A typical house in Yardley

The home of my childhood piano teacher-- model for Edith's house

Formerly Gerenser's

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