When I read C. Michelle Dorsey's wonderful debut novel, NO VIRGIN ISLAND, I could picture the house and by the end of the first chapter it was all I could do not to book myself a trip to St. John.
Today we're welcoming Michelle to Jungle Red and celebrating her brand spanking new, hot off the presses novel. She's here to take us on a tour of the house that inspired her.
C. MICHELE DORSEY: Villa Mascarpone, the scene of the crime in No Virgin Island, was inspired by a real villa on St. John where I have stayed many times and have never considered sinister. Located as far out in Fish Bay as you can go at the end of a cliff that looks down upon jagged rocks in the water below, the only way out is the way you came in. Unless you are a bird or a fish or a very clever criminal.
The dramatic views from each side of Villa Mascarpone are mind-blowing. To the east you look out at the Reef Bay Trail, which is part of the National Park, and beyond to Ram Head, a breathtaking cliff that was the site of a mass slave suicide in the early 1700's. To the south, you can see St. Croix on a clear day. Farther to the west, Puerto Rico can be seen in the distance with the third U.S. Virgin Island, St. Thomas, more closely to its left. St. Thomas lights up like a giant Christmas tree each evening, except during the more than occasional power outages common on islands.
The view above Villa Mascarpone during the day is of a sky so big and close you feel as though you could stick a finger out and grab a bite of one of those huge cotton candy clouds. At night, Orion and the Big and Little Dippers hang above the pool during starlit swims.
All of these views could be easily described as "atmospheric," a word frequently used when the location of a story, often referred to as "place," becomes akin to a character in itself.
So it is a little surprising to me that it was the poolside of the villa that made me begin a series of "what-if" thoughts. Walking through a periwinkle blue gate, you enter a courtyard with a hexagonal pool in the center with a native stone pillared pergola to the left and the entrance to the villa to the right. Such a serene scene. Apparently too much so for my liking, because I wondered during one happy hour with friends, what if there was a dead man, shot in the belly, lying on a hammock beneath the pergola.
Flash forward seven years later when that "what if" had morphed into a full-length mystery about to be published as my debut novel. Knowing people who love St. John are as passionate as readers who love mysteries and often overlap made me wonder, how could I share the news of my virgin mystery with my fellow fans of St. John?
A young man named Jason Hubert of St. John Videos answered that question quite easily. With a drone! What a hoot it was to see that drone fly over and then actually through Villa Mascarpone, where I was staying, to create a book trailer capturing the stunning surroundings where No Virgin Island is set.
HALLIE: A drone captured the photos for you trailer? Wow! And can I just say scary... because what if...
What memorable houses have been brought to you by books? Anastasia Krupnik's with its tower room? The little house on the praire? 221 Baker Street?