Guest Post by Author Don McNair
By Don McNair
My house came directly from a book. No, wait! My book came directly from my house!
Let me explain. Years ago, my wife and I bought a tumbling-down historical house in Magnolia Springs, Alabama. It was built in the late 1800s as a hotel to house “settlers” coming down to buy land and timber. According to a vintage picture we found, it was beautiful.
When we bought it, though, it had seen its better days. One sill was completely rotten, letting the house lean to the left. The beautiful slanted roof once on the wraparound front porch had been replaced by a me-too flat roof, apparently cheaper than replacing the original. The last tenants had dragged a car engine into the great hall, scratching up the once-beautiful heart pine floor. Lighting fixtures were missing. My young son even stepped on the back porch and fell through, ending up with only his head and shoulders showing.
Well, you get the idea. The place was a mess.
We surveyed the situation, gulped, and hired a contractor to bring that house back to life. Work progressed over six months’ time, and finally the project was finished. We stood back in the front yard and compared the house, now newly painted and with a new roof and that new porch roof, to our vintage photograph. You couldn’t tell the difference. Well, except for the fact that our hulking live oaks replaced the saplings surrounding the earlier version.
A writer by trade, I realized there was a fictional story there. So I wrote a romance novel, titled Mystery at Magnolia Mansion, and made the heroine an interior designer who would do everything we had done. The cover on that book shows our actual house.
I’d long heard one should “write what you know.” Well, I did. Having done so, agree wholeheartedly.
Yes, that book came from the house, not the other way around.