How Bolinas became Cliffside Bay

Several years ago, a friend sent me an article about Bolinas, California: “The Town That Didn’t Want Company”. That article sparked the idea for a new small town series, “Cliffside Bay Series”. What about a town where the locals don’t want visitors or newcomers? There’s so much material there, right? Characters running from something, or wanting to hide from someone, or starting over, or moving home. The possibilities are endless. You get the point. 

I only write about places I’ve been, so I decided it was necessary to visit. Unsure of when or how, I knew only that it would happen soon. That’s how these things work. Vision boards and all that, but this is another post. 

The opportunity presented itself a few months later. Before we were married, but already madly in love, Cliff and I flew to San Francisco for our first Spartan race. He knew of my desire to see Bolinas, and arranged an extra day for us to do so, as it’s several hours from San Francisco. This is the kind of partner he is – always willing to help me reach my dreams. But I digress…

Despite our aching muscles, we visited Bolinas the day after the race, driving the curvy highway from San Francisco to Bolinas in a rental car. The sky and sea were blue that day, so expansive and vast in scope that everything I could ever hope for seemed possible. I committed the sights and smells to memory, knowing that soon my characters would drive this same route. 

​When we arrived, we wandered the main street, taking photographs of charming shops and restaurants. We stood on a grassy knoll that overlooked the long stretch of beach and breathed in the briny scent of the Pacific. And I felt in that place inside that no one can see, or even fully describe, but where intuition and creativity live – this was the place to set my new series. 

​The River Valley books are loosely based on my hometown of Cave Junction, Oregon. The river, mountains and the air in that part of Oregon are a part of me. I can recall this place in an instant and a thousand different ways. A dragonfly buzzes by my ear as I bake on a rock with my feet in the Illinois River and the mountains rise toward the sky and I think, only God could create such beauty. It is not an accident. My entire series is based on this belief:  the river heals broken hearts and restores faith and  provides a chance for redemption. It’s something in the water and the air and the mountains.

However, the coastline that runs from central California to Northern Oregon inspires my soul in a way that nothing else ever has, except perhaps my recent trip to France. That too, is another post. 

​That’s the thing with writing fiction. Like reading, it can transport you to new worlds, and it’s fun. I’m not gonna lie. Super fun. Cliffside Bay is my home for the next four novels. When I close my eyes at night, the sights of the day we spent there flash across my mind like scenes from a favorite movie. “Traded: Brody and Kara” is already written and releases February 15th. I’m now happily writing the second in the series, “Deleted: Jackson and Maggie”. I love my little town and my characters as if they were not just a figment of my imagination. Some might call it insanity. I call it creativity. But let’s not split hairs. 

​Anyway, here are some photos of Bolinas. I encourage you to visit, even though the locals won’t want you to. Or, you can just read my books. 

​Cheers, my friends. Sending love from here. 


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