Saturday, December 5, 2020

#10 Trinitarian Abbey, Adare


Trinitarian Abbey, Adare

Driving through the pouring rain to Dublin, we stopped to stretch our legs in the village of Adare, in County Limerick.

          Looking out our car window, we saw the Holy Trinity Abbey Church, founded in 1226. We figured the Abbey would be dry inside and we would be able to walk around without getting soaked. As with almost every place we’ve encountered in Ireland, it was an amazing place. In fact, the 1856 restoration kept a portion of the original medieval nave! The original eight hundred-year-old stone walls and timber ceilings still stand in sharp contrast to the later additions.

          We read all the plaques and other information posted around, outlining the history of the abbey. We could feel the history of the building as we touched the walls and breathed in the air. The fact that so many important things occurred under the spots where we stood gave us chills. These feelings, which we put in our book, would hopefully accompany our characters as they travel through the country in search of the truth for Patrick Lyons..


 To see more of the inside of the church click below.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

#9 Milltown, County Kerry


Milltown, County Kerry

We spent our first three days of our Ireland adventure in Milltown, County Kerry, population, 928.

          Milltown is a small village with a huge Catholic Church. The B & B we stayed in was upstairs from Larkin’s Pub. It was comfortable and warm. In the evening the Larkin’s Pub came to life. During the week they had a  jukebox (even though this was 2014) which people played while enjoying a drink...or two...or three. Later in the evenings, there would be more people and lots of music. Occasionally, someone would bring a guitar or another musical instrument and play old Irish songs. As noisy as it was in the pub, it was dead quiet in our upstairs room.

          Interesting enough, throughout our travels, we stopped periodically to stretch our legs and get either something warm to eat or, herb tea, or cold, bottled water. Local pubs seemed to be the place to share news of the town or the world and discuss politics or world affairs. Basically the hub of the town. The bigger the town the more pubs and taverns.

          When the music was going full blast, the dance floors were crowded, shoulder to shoulder (it was a small dance floor!). Then it hit us. This was a perfect place for a murder and body dump.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

#8 Galgorm Hotel, Ballymena Castle/Theatre


Galgorm Hotel, Ballymena Castle/Theatre

As we arrived in Northern Ireland, we found the Galgorm Hotel, Ballymena in County Antrim. It was a perfect place to stretch our legs. From the front entrance, it appears to be a traditional country manor, but there is a lot more to it than what is seen from the entrance. The gleaming white hotel is beautifully decorated and welcoming since it is considered a resort. The vast grounds are well manicured.

    In our book, a murder takes place in the dressing room of a theatre. This hotel and resort features a spa and golf, plus areas large enough for weddings. It provides guests with almost anything they could want.  That inspired us to add a small, fictional theater for the location where the first murder would be discovered.

          The hotel has a golf course, and on the 10th green is the Galgorm Castle on the grounds. This ancient building is flooded with a history dating back to 1607 (some of it, macabre).  The castle’s architecture is described as Jacobean in style and through the years there have been many owners, each with their own history.

          If you are curious of the history of Galgorm Castle here is the link. It is fascinating!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

#7 Tracy's House/Office


Tracy's House/Office

We decided to base Tracy Morton, our female protagonist, in a beach community which we call, Bonita Beach.

          We took a drive along the coast looking for the ideal house with a third-floor office and a  lookout balcony facing the ocean.

           It was a beautiful southern California morning (just as parts of so. California was beginning to reopen due to the quarantine). We were lucky the beach traffic was still pretty light, and after a couple of hours of driving and taking photographs of likely candidates, we found two perfect houses. So, we combined the two houses, it was just as we envisioned.

          As with all of our books, we take field trips to find the perfect location/architecture for our scenes. We want to be sure they fit the characters and locations of the story. Field trips are perfect for a couple writing together.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

#6 What is the difference between a Pub, Inn and Tavern in Ireland?



What is the difference between a Pub, Inn, and Tavern in Ireland?

          The moment we stepped off the plane in Dublin we were bombarded with ads for Pubs, Inns, and Taverns. Both of us scratched our heads and wondered what the difference was. After all, they all served alcoholic drinks.

          After a few days, we figured it out. All of them serve alcoholic drinks and soft drinks, but the difference was:

A TAVERN serves food as well as alcohol. They are also a place to do business, friends meet for a meal or drinks, and families have lunch or dinner there.

A PUB (short for Public House) serves alcoholic drinks and soft drinks only. Food is seldom served (usually snacks) and children are not permitted.

AN INN serves food, alcoholic drinks and soft drinks plus has lodgings. It is a place to stay overnight, hold meetings, do business and families are welcome for all meals.

          After visiting all three we were able to figure out what scenes were most appropriately set in a pub, an inn, or tavern for our book, STONE PUB.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

#5 The Mansion


The Mansion

As we began our novel we used the internet to search for the perfect mansion and estate to stand in as Lyonsmaine Estate, the ancestral home of our protagonist.

 In our book, the estate is located in the, now, Republic of Ireland. In our research, we happened across Kilmahon House, in County Cork. It was built in 1780.

The three-story house is situated behind a stone wall. The Celtic Sea can be seen from the top floors. The grounds around the house are beautifully landscaped.

The video below gave us a tour of the house making it easy to move our characters around the mansion and the estate grounds. This worked perfectly.


The Kilmahon House tour can be found below:

Sunday, October 4, 2020

#4 Ballingeary, county Cork Church


Ballingeary, County Cork Church

          While at Gougane Barra in Ballingeary, County Cork, we had lunch at the hotel. The hotel restaurant was quaint and the food amazingly good. The lake behind the hotel was lovely. Since it was cold and sunny we decided to go for a walk. We came across a small stone church on the side of the lake that held maybe thirty people. Its history dates back to 623AD!

          This is where we came up with the idea of the church on the Lyonsmaine estate in our book and its role in the mystery.

          As we traveled around Ireland we found churches dotted throughout the countryside that has the most amazing histories.  In the Republic of Ireland, we found numerous abandoned stone churches.  Many of these small churches held, at the most, twenty or thirty worshippers. Though abandoned, many still had intact stained glass windows.

In the Republic of Ireland (south) we were surprised to find so many empty or abandoned Anglican churches on the outskirts of towns. Yet the Catholic Churches were old, and huge with incredible histories. Even the small towns, hamlets, had good size Catholic churches.

          When we traveled to Northern Ireland, the Anglican Churches were everywhere, while the Catholic churches were small, some abandoned.

          It is amazing how the various places we visited spark our imagination.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

#3 Traditional Irish Fare


Traditional Irish Fare

          We stopped for brunch at the Londonderry Arms Hotel, in Carnlough, County Antrim. It was freezing cold and raining, we were chilled to the bone. We walked into the hotel, the fireplace was burning and the hotel was as charming hotel as you would imagine. The hotel was built in 1848  as a coaching inn. In 1921 the hotel was inherited by Winston Churchill.

        This is where we had our first taste of Irish cuisine. We sampled a few dishes, i.e. Boxty, Colcannon, Irish stew, White and Black Pudding, and the most delicious Irish stew made with lamb.

          Since we have to feed our characters, we made notes on the food and referred to them while writing various scenes. I noticed how very gracious the Irish people were during our visit. We made sure the supporting characters, who are Irish, were as gracious as they could be...for a murder mystery that is.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

#2 Ballingeary, County Cork


Ballingeary, County Cork

We were on our way to the village of Kilcorhane in the extreme southwestern of the Republic of Ireland, when we stopped for lunch at Gougane Barra, in Ballingeary, County Cork.

      After lunch, we went for a walk along the lake and visited the tiny stone church on the lakeshore before getting back on the road again. It was a beautiful spring afternoon, birds chirping, cool breeze, and the sun finally came out. Further along, we came across a stream and decided to follow it. As we walked, we realized how isolated we were. We found a small bridge and walked to the middle where we watched leaves drift beneath us as the gentle current passed under the bridge. The large boulders glistened in the sun. Will said, "A body could float down this stream easily and get caught on the boulders." So we took pictures and walked back to the car. For the rest of the two-hour trip to Kilcrohane, we talked about using this stream for a body dump and made notes.

          When it was time to outline Stone Pub, we planned our murders, and this stream, in The Republic of Ireland, became the place where one of the unfortunate victims was discovered.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

How we came up with the story, STONE PUB #1

 Dublin, Museum: The Gold Balls

Starting a new series is always exciting. The fear that the lightning bolt moment of creation will never arrive is ever-present. What will be the central mystery?  We have never gone "dry," after fifteen novels, yet when beginning each book, the anxiety is always there.

 We decided to focus on the first of our new International Mystery series in Ireland.  We visited the Emerald Isle in 2014 and fell in love with the country and its people. During our stay, we took notice of everywhere we went and everyone we met. From these experiences, we developed a plot, the mystery, and some great characters.

     While walking through the city of Dublin, during the last few days of our trip, it started to rain. (In Ireland when it rains it's always downpour!) To escape the deluge, we walked to the National Museum of Irelands. Not only did it keep us dry for several hours, but we were amazed at the rich history of Ireland found in so many archeological items dug out from ancient peat bogs.

     One eye-popping discovery was the Tumna Gold Balls. They date back to the Late Bronze Age, which means they ended up in a bog nearly 3,000 years go!

 We came home from our trip with wonderful memories and long-lasting relationships. Then life got back to normal.

When it came time to plan the series, we thought of all our adventures in Ireland, and immediately the Gold Balls came to both our minds.

After several months of planning, that “lightning bolt” moment came, and we knew immediately how to weave the Gold Balls into the story. Since STONE PUB is set in 1962, it was easy to work the mystery around the Gold Balls. Once we got the outline complete, the story fell into place.

When we began our writing careers, authors would tell us that inspiration will come in the most unusual places. I didn't understand it until I started publishing, and it is so-o-o true!


For more information about the Tumna Gold Balls, go to: