My sister, to whom The Old Inn at Punta de Sangre is dedicated, and I went on a unique "book tour" around Pigeon Point, where some scenes in my novel take place. The lighthouse stands stark and rust-stained on a promontory of the treacherous San Mateo County coast. In the elongated shadow of the tower, we frolicked in the cove where whalers used to flense their prey. We watched rollers break along the deep curve of coast that used to lure navigators in the fog toward false open water and then tear their vessels apart on the reef. That's how Pigeon Point came by its prosaic name -- when the clipper ship Carrier Pigeon wrecked there on her maiden voyage in 1853. There have been countless lives lost in stormy and bloody events off the point. The Pigeon name stuck because of the fiasco that ensued after the wreck, as salvage vessels nearly suffered the same fate, while the local residents of Pescadero gleefully looted the cargo.
My sister and I explored the places where several of my characters adventure -- as they chum the waters, surf the dangerous break, witness a shark attack, and discover a dead body. Our morning tour wasn't quite so eventful, but the restless susurration of the waves, the streaks of rust down the sides of the looming lighthouse, the unexpected slips on the tide-pool rocks, and the ancient, tawny hills above the shore all whispered secret warnings about humans who, through the ages, have come to the shore to find what they need, out of hope or desperation.