Ryan Jo Summers is back on Wednesday Writers again with a new book. I’ve asked Ryan to talk about a particular piece of the setting of her newest mystery/suspense romance release When Clouds Gather and tell us how it evolved in her story. She’s chosen to write about Bed and Breakfast that her heroine runs When Clouds Gather.
Welcome back to Wednesday Writers, Ryan Jo.
I had already completed most of the first draft to When Clouds Gather when I took some time off to meet and have lunch with a friend. She had recently returned from a trip to see the kids and grandkids and attend her high school reunion and I was eager to hear the latest and see the photos.
She had a montage of photos in a frame of various shots taken around the town of Grafton–I’m pretty sure that’s in MA. Just places that meant something to her. I was immediately struck with a picture of a tall building, in a Colonial or Greek style, with a white cupola on top. It was awesome! It screamed to be in Clouds.
I already had a clear picture in my head how Darby’s Bed & Breakfast Inn, The Brass Lamplighter, looked. I already had a huge Victorian with a widow’s walk, black chimneys and wisteria vines growing up the sides. This photo added the crowning grace.
How could I incorporate a cupola onto it? As I stared at the photo, of what my friend explained was the Grafton Inn, with a much storied and long past, I had to use that cupola.
My friend by now was sure I was insane but she was accustomed to me finding story bits in odd, random and obscure places. One Valentine’s evening while driving home late , I discovered a bouquet of roses and baby’s breath still wrapped in cellophane lying in the middle of a two lane residential road. The possibilities intrigued me and that simple scene later became the driving force behind a short story I wrote, entitled Glimpse Eternity, that would also have some autobiographical pieces interwoven through it. It was almost therapeutic for me to write, all because of an abandoned bouquet of Valentine’s roses.
Now, back to Clouds and the cupola that captured my imagination. I went home, pondering the Grafton Inn. I rewrote part of my introduction to the Brass Lamplighter to include the crowning cupola. Then I wrote an entirely new scene in which the hero, Sam, has a fight up on the rooftop and around the cupola. It is a nice scene, of which I am proud of, and one that would not have happened had my friend not taken the photo, framed it and I chanced to see it.
In part of the book’s dedication, I dedicated that scene, now known as ‘ the widow’s walk scene’ to my friend.
Thanks for this interesting insight into an important part of your book’s setting, Ryan Jo. Here’s a peek at the scene Ryan’s talking about.
When Clouds Gather
Sucking in a breath, Sam expected the mutts to whirl about and mount an attack on either him or Darby. He watched as they tore past, moving straight for the storage shed. Instinct had him reaching for his weapon with one hand and pushing Darby behind him with the other as a dark shadow burst from the corner of the shed. Racing for cover, the dogs hot on his heels, the figure was little more than a dark-clad blur. A full-sized adult human blur.
Streaking away, trying to outrun the dogs, the dark figure fired a shot at them, the bullet sailing way off course.
“Oh my! Sam!” Darby threw her arm around his waist.
He’d already drawn a bead on the target and squeezed off two shots, feeling Darby shudder with each report. “I think I winged him. Stay here.”
The clouds and enveloping darkness were not his friends as he tried to find the target. The dogs raced to the house, barking and clawing near the north side, trying to climb up. A figure on the second floor balcony yanked at the French doors to one of the bedrooms. Finding them locked, he grabbed the trellis and started for the third level balcony.
Of course. What a great way to gain access to the house. If anyone knew of Darby’s habit of leaving doors and windows unlocked, it was an easy in.
Hoping and praying each door and window was still locked, Sam stalked across the lawn, aware that Darby was still pressed to his side. “Go inside and lock every door and window you can. Don’t open them for anyone. Call the police. Then stay near the kids.”
Reaching the ground floor wisteria vine, he grabbed hold of the trellis with one hand, giving it a sturdy shake, still holding his weapon in the other hand. That guy could shoot down easier than he could shoot up. Expecting that Darby was following his orders, he started up, aware the dogs were still barking, whining and clawing at the side of the house.
Reaching the second story, he swung onto the balcony, leaning out for a good look up. The guy was on the widow’s walk. Rats! Grimly, he grabbed the next trellis and headed for the third level.
Now that his opponent was on more solid ground, he turned and fired. Sam climbed, bullets raining down around him. Luckily, this character, whoever he was, had a lousy aim. Except he wasn’t really in any position to return fire and there was Darby and the kids inside to consider too.
Reaching the third level, he wondered where the perp was now. Leaning out, he saw him still on the widow’s walk, moving toward the white shuttered cupola that crowned the rooftop. Grimly, he grabbed another handful of wisteria vine and headed up again. It was like trying to scale the face of Mount Rushmore, he thought with disgust.
And what was waiting for him once he reached the top of it?
Grabbing the railing of the widow’s walk, he hauled himself over the edge, landing on the mist-slick shingles. At the cupola, the perp crouched, his gun held out. Swinging his weapon up, Sam fired blindly, ducking the shots coming at him. The walkway was narrow and slippery. Gripping the railing, he squeezed off another shot then dropped to his belly. With nowhere to roll, no place for cover, he was back up again, charging forward to the nearest chimney.
It wasn’t much, but it was all the cover he would get.
Cursing the poor location for a shoot-out, he fired again, then cursed when he missed. The moon sailed out from behind the clouds, casting alabaster light on the rooftop.
Ryan Jo Summers has always been a reader, having a great interest in books. She wanted to be an author since age ten when she wrote her first story complete with illustrations. It has taken a long time to find and perfect her niche- contemporary romance with a twist. She still likes to write short stories, novellas and poems when inspired for the challenge and therapy they offer.
When not busy writing, Ryan Jo likes to spend time with her menagerie of pets, hang out with friends or lounge in nature’s majesty. She also likes to cook and bake, travel, tinker around with houseplants and yard plants. Her favorite hobby is another creative outlet; painting. She creates full sized carousel horses from children’s spring rockers, paints ceramics and canvas and dabbles in cartoons.
Ryan Jo lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina where the scenic vistas provide constant inspiration and tranquility, keeping her creative batteries charged. Her biggest problem is finding enough time to give life to all the creative endeavors she wants to pursue.
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WHISPERS IN HER HEART–November 2012 Black Lyon Publishing SHIMMERS OF STARDUST–September 2014 Soul Mate Publishing WHEN CLOUDS GATHER–November 2014 Soul Mate Publishing