View of Lucy Creek
Deadly Secrets is set in and around Beaufort, South Carolina—pronounced Bew-fort—where my family had a home for forty years. Our little slice of heaven was situated on a tidal marsh called Lucy Creek, at the very end of Lady's Island, near a spit of land made famous in the Tom Hanks' movie Forrest Gump. It was there my sister and I, our cousins, and eventually our children learned about the rare and fecund beauty of the marsh, of its teeming wildlife, of its endless cycle of life and death.
In those serpentine waters, we came to know the ways of the creek's inhabitants: shrimp, crab, egret, osprey and playful families of porpoise that cruised by our dock close enough to kiss. When Deadly Secret's hero, Jake Butler professes to have salt water in his veins and plough mud (pronouced pluff-mud) in his soul, he is claiming a Lowcountry heritage that is also mine.
Crabbing off the dock is sport not to be missed by young or old. It takes great patience and stealth to reel in an unsuspecting crab, net it and successfully deposit it in a bucket where it glares and snaps furiously.
River Walk and Woods Memorial Bridge
In The Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy writes: "I have heard it said that an inoculation to the sights and smells of the Carolina lowcountry is an almost irreversible antidote to the charms of other landscapes, other alien geographies. You can be moved profoundly by other vistas, by other oceans, by soaring mountain ranges, but you can never be seduced. You can even forsake the lowcountry, renounce it for other climates, but you can never completely escape the sensuous, semitropical pull of Charleston and her marshes." Although he is writing about Charleston, Conroy's sentiments capture the impact of Beaufort County as well.
Gus on Sullivan's Island
I love dogs--big ones, little ones, young ones, old ones--dogs, cats, horses and the occasional cow (but cows are iffy because they're just not so bright, you know?). Our current canine of choice is a two year old Australian Shepherd named after one of my all time favorite fictional characters: Captain Augustus McCrae. Captain McCrae is a frisky old devil in Larry McMurty’s Lonesome Dove and was brought to life on the big screen by Robert Duvall. Our dog Gus is frisky as well, much smarter than we are and has an insatiable love of tennis balls. Over Christmas (2011), we visited Sullivan’s Island in Charleston, S.C. and threw a virtual hailstorm of tennis balls about which Gus was ecstatic. He’s caught here in a rare still moment, pondering not the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, but the beauty of… you got it, tennis balls. Interestingly, Fred, the dog in Deadly Secrets, is the complete opposite of Gus. A 90lb. yellow lab, Fred's what I call a coffee table dog. They can hold still for long periods of time, generally right in the middle of your living room, and can serve well as a coffee table in a pinch. Fred is owned by our hero, Jake Butler and spends a large part of his day driving around Beaufort with Jake. You might enjoy this excerpt about Fred whom Jake calls, a hero waiting to happen.