Friday, August 1, 2008

An Imposter

I feel like one. The Carolina Conspiretors are a group of Carolina mystery writers. I am indeed a mystery writer, with three published books, but have only been a Carolinian for a little over a year. However, this group is very friendly, and not very hung up on rules, so they let me join. And has it ever been fun. I came from California and all of my friends told me how different I would find things here. I would have to adjust to small town living, slower pace of living, and hot weather. I lived on the central coast, in a small town-well, it was a small town when I moved there-and as for hot weather, you put on a sweater if it got below 100 in the summer. Okay. Maybe that's an stretching the truth a little, but only a little. Paso Robles can get HOT!.

I've found some differences. Lunch in Paso Robles meant going out. There are a number of wonerful spots to relax over a great lunch and a great glass of wine. After all, Paso Robles is wine country. Here, ladies, at least the ones I've met, tend to lunch at each others homes, and the beverage of choice is sweetened iced tea. The ironed tableclothes are out, so are the hand edged napkins, and the plates are china. The food's good too. But I haven't seen one single white glove. I'm glad, because the last time I saw mine I was in the fifth grade. The conversations at these luncheons is just as spirited as it was in Paso Robles, politics, both local and national, families, gardens, and sometimes just a hint of gossip. Wouldn't be any fun without at least some gossip. Nice gossip, of course. That seems pretty much the same whichever coast you are on.

One of the things I like best about the Carolina's is the green. Trees, bushes, rivers, and more trees. No matter where I drive, it's green. And beautiful. The first spring I was here, I drove all over, the dogs in the back seat, drinking in all of the color. The dogwoods almost put me into sensory overload and then the azealeas! I had tried them in California, as well as camillias. They died. Or sat there in the ground, looking sad, pining away for a more humid climate with warmer nights and more acid soil. The ones I've planted here were beautiful this spring, but the roses---. Obviously I've got a lot to learn about growing roses in the south.

Enough about gardening and on to wine. Actually, two things that go together nicely--sipping a cold glass of dry white wine in a lovely garden on a summer afternoon--but I was going to talk about my last book. Because---I'll bet you didn't guess. It's about wine, and wineries, and tempermental chefs, and great food, with a little romance slipped in--did I mention the bed and breakfast? It was fun to write, mainly because I lived for over twenty years in Paso Robles, the heart of California's central coast wine country. It has a climate very much like the south of France and looks a lot like it too. Rolling hills, huge black oaks, fields of golden grass during the summer months, interspersed with vineyards. Lots and lots of vineyards. I was a real estate broker for all of those years, and represented buyers and sellers of wineries, vineyards, and raw land that was destined to become vineyards. Besides being fun, I learned a lot about wine, winemakers, and the perils and perks of that kind of agriculture. It just had to go into a book, so And Murder For Dessert was born. It has had great reviews, had been a Book Sense notable, and is nominated for the Willa Cather award. We'll see what happens there. It's so much fun writing about something you know well, and that excites you. Makes the research a lot easier. And-speaking of which-the next book is set in a bakery. An Italian bakery. Talk about fun research. Until next Friday, Kathleen Delaney