I first found the region that has become the rich landscape for Painted Dresses on a road trip up to Topsail Island. I met several authors there in an annual round table party where local readers gather to pick the brains of novelists. It was a resourceful trip as I made a lot of headway into several towns. After driving up and down roads and stopping to chat along roadside stores and gas stations, I finally nailed down heroine Gaylen's home town in Boiling Spring Lakes. There's a long strip of road that runs right through town like a zipper called Fify Lakes Drive. From there sprang the story of Gaylen and Delia, two twenty-something and thirty-something sisters whose road trip is an inward journey for Gaylen.
Today I realized that after I finish Painted Dresses that I need to return to that area, specifically the towns that make up Pender County like Rocky Point and Burgaw. Several spring fests are coming up. I found a place online called Paul's Place. When I get there, I'll take pictures for you all to see (if he's around) of Paul and his famous hot dogs.
Today I'm wandering around inside the imaginations and the histories of these towns and wondering what trouble Gaylen might get into next.