I am delighted today to welcome my friend Robin E. Mason to the blog for a tour of her fictional town of Saisons, the setting of her new Seasons series!
Stories come to me in different ways. Sometimes I “get” the gist of the story, sometimes I get character names. Sometimes I get the title first.
When Seasons came to me, the first thing I got was the names, and then the story titles. I therefore knew the series would then be Seasons. And I eventually got to the setting. I first thought it was current day, set somewhere north of here, somewhere that seasons are markedly different. Somewhere they get snow.
But as the story started speaking to me, I knew that a) it was not current day, but set in 1912 and 1913—very concise timeframe compared to my first series—and b) it was set in South Carolina.
“The southern town of Saisons lies at the crossroads between North and South, progressive and genteel antebellum life. Between East and West, between history and heritage, and new frontiers. Downton Abbey meets Gone With the Wind. It’s 1912, in a world where slavery is dying and women’s rights are rising, and four young women who once shared a bond—and experienced a tragedy—question their own truths.”
When I get into the flow of a new story, I first see a vision of what the town is like. Then I go to Google maps to find a town to, er, borrow. And Lake City seemed just perfect. So I printed me a nice little map of Lake City…
… zoomed in…
… and promptly drew all over it.
Looks kinda like a spider web, doesn’t it?
Saisons is a crossroads town, with a statue of René Armand Dubois (1572) and a fountain in a quintessential town square in the center. A quarter of the town—and at least that much of its wealth—is owned by the Dubois family. Two other families, the Fontaines and the Marchands, also were part of the founding fathers of my little town. Ashley Santee, the Marchand estate is to the north, and Bastille House and Vineyards belongs to the Fontaine family.
I drew up a list of common places and businesses in a town and named them. The little red numbers on the map is the key to where each business is. They may never show up in the story, but in my mind, I know what’s there when Mercedes or Scarlett walk down Weatherbie Road or Tarleton Street.
The logistics, though, of Lake City didn’t fit some of the directional details and I moved the town a bit further south. It now sits on the Edisto River a little south of where Branchville is.
But what I had the most fun with—my interior designer voice—was designing the houses! I drew a floor plan for Saisons House (and later for Alés House, Mercedes’ townhome) so as I described clandestine meetings in the study—or in the secret room—tea in the parlor or dances in the ball room, I could see it all.
This is a fairly close representation of how I see Saisons House. (In the real world it is Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC.) Can you imagine how oppressive the heat would be in that tower in the summer?
Saisons House is designed as above, and functions as Downton Abbey. The Dubois family were not so strict with the rigors of protocol, but servants were expected to use the belowstairs entrances.
Inside the formal entry was a sweeping curved stair.
And that door there? The one that’s just cut off? That leads to Monsieur Dubois’ study—where the entrance to the secret room is oh-so-cleverly disguised!
There are, of course, also the parlor and music room.
The dining room.
And the ballroom.
There was also a small chapel and loggia.
The grounds were a botanical feast, with angel oaks and magnolia trees.
There are cottages that were former slave shacks, and the barn and stables. The paddock, and of course, the fields of sugar cane and tea, the signature Saisons Plantation crops.
I hope you visit Saisons soon, and get to know Mercedes and her friends. The Long Shadows of Summer released just last month. Of all my main characters, Scarlett’s story most closely correlates to my own though not a true parallel. The Tilting Leaves of Autumn is her story and releases in November. Pearl has just gone MIA and The Silent Song of Winter will tell you why when it releases in February of next year. And finally, Simone, in a way the main character of the series, answers the last of the clues and questions in The Whispering Winds of Spring, in May of 2018.
“I’ve always had voices—er, stories in my head. I once said I should write them all down so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”
Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa, in 2013. Meanwhile, she cranked out a few dozen poems, made countless notes for story ideas, and earned her BFA in Interior Design. Ms. Mason lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; she didn’t want to be who she was and struggled with her own identity for many years. Her characters face many of these same demons.
Ms. Mason writes stories of identity conflict. Her characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, her stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. “I know, I write from experience.”
Ms. Mason has three novels previously published in the unsavory heritage series. Tessa, Clara Bess, and Cissy are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. She also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers.
The southern town of Saisons lies at the crossroads between North and South, progressive and genteel antebellum life. Between East and West, between history and heritage, and new frontiers. Downton Abbey meets Gone With the Wind.
It’s 1912, in a world where slavery is dying and women’s rights are rising, and four young women who once shared a bond—and experienced a tragedy—question their own truths.
Mercedes has always been an avid reader and devours each new Sherlock Holmes mystery as soon as she gets her hands on them. When one of her friends comes to her, Mercedes vows to keep Simone’s secrets and uncover the truth.
But as Mercedes plays detective to her friends’ questions, she discovers something far more shocking—she herself is not who she thought she was.
Robin E. Mason is giving away a signed copy of The Long Shadows of Summer (OR one of the other books in the series when they come out) to one of my readers! (US only) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? Between Downton Abbey and Tara Plantation, where would you rather live?