More than ten years ago, I took a trip to the Sonoma Valley with my sister, Cheri. We stayed in a little bed and breakfast on the corner of the Sonoma plaza called The Sonoma Hotel where we could step right out the door and explore Sonoma. It was perfect.
I had been to Sonoma on several occasions since I lived in nearby Sacramento at the time, but it was Cheri’s first visit. We had such a great time exploring the area, wine tasting, and taking a ton of pictures. Strangely, our film disappeared before we could get it developed, but in the end it didn’t matter. The Sonoma Valley was imprinted in our memories and we’ve never forgotten the trip.
I used the Sonoma Valley as a setting in my first book, Ruby Among Us and created the fictional town of La Rosaleda based on the area. The first book focuses on three generations of women and their shared journey to find who they are and each other, but strangely I didn’t write anything about sisters.
While my next book is filled with mystery, art, and a love story, I’m excited to say that Rose House does explore the sister relationships between two characters, Lillian and Geena Diamon. And if you like Ruby Among Us, there are a few jewels in Rose House just for you. One of them is my favorite character, Kitty. Another is that the book is set in my fictional town of La Rosaleda, which is very similar to Sonoma, but smaller and quaint. Of course, if you have read Ruby Among Us, you already know that the Rose House, often described by readers as a character all on its own, is from my first novel. And one can never have enough roses in a town named La Rosaleda.
My new characters, Geena and Lillian, are not Tina and Cheri, but our trip to the valley did inspire the story and when Cheri read the novel, she did recognize pieces of our trip and even a few pieces of us. For one thing, Lillian and Geena are from Oklahoma, but moved to California when they were young. Cheri and I are both from Oklahoma and we both moved away when we were young women. I have lived in England, California, and now Wyoming, while she has settled in Tennessee. But we both occasionally miss “home,” just as Geena and Lillian sometimes do.
All I can say is that I’m glad we took that trip. If not, I might not have written Rose House.