I love discovering fun, new places. Many years ago, my husband and I were sailing in the Suwannee area off the west coast of Florida and needed to come in to get gas and restock supplies. It looked from the chart as if the closest place to do so would be Cedar Key.
Even though we’ve lived in Florida most of our lives, we’d never heard of Cedar Key. When we sailed into the Cedar Cove Beach and Yacht Club, we were immediately impressed with the friendliness of the people. We learned that gas was on the other side of the island, but instead of sending us on our way, a local gentleman insisted on loading our portable gas tank into his golf cart and driving my husband there.
When I decided I wanted to write a series of books set in a quaint island community, I knew Cedar Key would be perfect. The second oldest city in Florida (behind St. Augustine), it has an artsy, “Old Florida” air. It’s the home of several festivals each year, including the Cedar Key Art Festival in the spring and the Seafood Festival in the fall. There’s even an annual Pirate Invasion Weekend, which comes into play in Hidden Identity. So does the Cedar Keyhole Artist Co-op, a gallery that showcases a wide variety of work by local artists.
Research for this series has been a pleasure. Everyone I’ve talked to has been eager to help. Since I write suspense, the police station is always on my “must visit” list. My first time there, Chief Sandlin took me into his office and patiently answered all my questions, even coming up with possible scenarios to clarify his answers. Although I’ve set five suspense stories there, Cedar Key is actually an extremely safe little town. (All my bad guys come from somewhere else!)