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The World’s an Island by Lissa Kasey
In August my family erupted. I was working on Model Investigator, and fighting to finish it through depression and outrage. When it was done I decided I needed something a little cathartic. I wanted to write a story that laid out some of my family history but had a positive ending. It would be my first ever contemporary romance. However, like a lot of my stories, I wanted to create a separate space just for these characters. Instead of putting them on another planet or an alternate world, I decided to put them on a reclusive island I hadn’t known existed until I inquired of a friend for ideas—the San Juan islands in Washington.
Maybe it’s just because I’m a Midwesterner that I didn’t know these islands existed. I’ve never been to that corner of the country, so I was a little surprised by the happy little secret of these islands filled with lavender, alpacas, and state parks. Of course they are islands for the rich now as home prices are in the millions. But I thought, why not? Why not create a little community in the real world for my survivors to live, heal, and find love?
After some research, I decided on Friday Harbor as my location. This appears to be one of the largest and easiest to access islands of the bunch. There’s a town with a hospital, an airport, and a huge state park overlooking the Olympic Mountains. There’s also an alpaca farm and fields of lavender.
There is a state ferry that travels back and forth all day long from the mainland to the islands. Research included looking at traffic cams, searching real estate sites, reviewing maps, and checking out the websites for the island, the fire fighters and police departments of the island, and the farms. Here’s the main website for Friday Harbor: http://www.fridayharbor.com/.
It’s a popular place to get married, spend the day exploring the island, or even summer months hiking in the state park. Sadly, I have not yet been to the island. Though I do plan a trip in the near future.
What I found most appealing about these islands other than being mostly unknown, is that instead of being a tropical getaway for people who want to lay on beaches and drink alcohol, it seems to be a place of quiet exploration, and a slow down of the fast pace we often find ourselves in when on vacation or even just living life. This, to me, felt like the perfect place for my characters to heal.
What would be your ideal place to travel? Do you like to rush around on vacation or just relax? Have you ever been to a secret hideaway like this? Some place unknown to the average individual, maybe even underrated, but beautiful?
About Painting with Fire
Charlie “Wood Chuck” Fox knows his best friend and fellow wildfire firefighter Jessie Row had a major family break up in her past. Charlie has adopted her into his heart and into his huge family and when Jessie gets word her mother has passed away, Charlie fears returning home is going to tear her up.
Bastian Hart’s choice of career as a doll painter has put him at odds with his family. He’s made a sanctuary for himself on the San Juan Island of Friday Harbor, an hour away from his family. He welcomes his aunt Jessie and her friend Charlie into his house as they all prepare for the upcoming funeral. Charlie and Bastian discover a spark of smoldering fire igniting between them, but Charlie is unwilling to push and Bastian hesitant to trust.
They will have to wade through pain, hate, and fear to find their future together.
Bastian was waiting for him. He was dressed in fitted blue jeans and a thick zip up sweater. His shoes were heavy black leather. Charlie nodded. “Ready?”
“Yes,” Bastian said. “And no. I’m terrified. I’ve never been on a motorcycle before.”
Charlie led him out to the bike, retrieved the helmets from the lockbox in the back of the truck and helped Bastian put on his. He left the visor up and put on his own. “Once I’m on, I want you to swing your legs around it up behind me. Close. Especially since this is your first ride. Your feet go here.” He motioned to the foot rest. “The shield keeps most of the bugs from splattering on us, but if we go really fast you’ll need to wash your clothes when we’re done.”
Bastian’s eyes widened. Charlie grinned since he was teasing, flicked his visor down and swung onto the bike. Bastian hesitated for a moment, like he wasn’t sure he could do it. Then he carefully climbed on behind Charlie. Charlie steadied the bike and turned it on, giving it a minute for the blue tooth to link up. Then he glanced back to see Bastian nervously watching his feet.
“Slide forward,” Charlie told him. “Put your arms around my waist. I won’t let you fall. We’ll start slow, I promise.”
Bastian slid forward. He carefully wrapped his arms around Charlie’s waist, but his grip was loose. Charlie kicked the bike up, it rolled a few feet, and suddenly Bastian was holding on for dear life. Charlie grinned as he eased them down Bastian’s drive, out the gate, and to the main road, keeping their speed just under thirty miles an hour.
Once they hit the long stretch of lavender fields, Charlie pushed the speed up to fifty. Still below the limit, but enough to have Bastian clinging to him and laughing with excitement and joy. Charlie loved the sound. He had to admit he was attracted to Bastian. Not so much how he looked, though he was adorable, but his amazing heart and endurance. Charlie hoped they could at least become friends. As a man who spent most of his life in the field, he didn’t have enough of those outside the job.
Charlie eased the bike down so they could turn around. The sky was darkening.
“There’s a side road not far up that takes us along the coast,” Bastian said.
“Yeah? Let me know where it is and we’ll take a ride that way.”
“Okay.” Bastian rested his head against Charlie’s shoulder. Once they reached the turn off, Charlie turned on the side road, happy it was paved and in good condition. It wasn’t a long road, but the view was spectacular. Charlie pulled over into a small dirt overlook and took off his helmet. The sun was setting and it was spectacular.
“Wow,” Charlie breathed.
Bastian took off his helmet too. “Nothing else matches the colors. Some say it’s the pollen from the lavender that makes sunsets and rises here so colorful. Others say it’s the mix of cold air from the mountains and the warmth of the water.” He didn’t let go of Charlie; his body heat warmed Charlie. They watched in silence as the sun set. Final traces of the sun’s glow vanishing into a dark blue night. Stars appeared in the thousands.
“No wonder you create such beautiful things with this inspiring view to fuel your muse,” Charlie remarked.
Lissa Kasey is more than just romance. She specializes in depth characters, detailed world building, and twisting plots to keep you clinging to your book reader. All stories have a side of romance, emotionally messed up protagonists and feature LGBTGA spectrum characters facing real world problems no matter how fictional the story.