This year, as summer rolls in, many of us are feeling a little stuck at home. But you can always escape into a good book. Or escape to Fortune Bay.
I wrote Lake of Dreams, a prequel to the Fortune Bay series, to give away as my gift to readers for joining my Readers Group. I imagined it as a fun little book – could see Colleen dancing on the dock in her cowboy boots – and was surprised at the personal, poignant themes that emerged as I wrote.
I was lucky enough to spend many holidays at my husband’s family cottage in Muskoka, in rugged, rocky, northern Ontario. From the stories I heard, he and his four brothers and sisters ran wild there for two months every summer throughout their childhood and teens. Later, our own children got to experience the fishing and boating too for a few weeks every summer.
|This was our cottage for many years, my inspiration for Alex Porter’s cottage on Majestic Lake.|
On the long weekend in the middle of the summer, the whole active, extended family would meet there for the annual regatta. (Watch for the regatta to show up in one of the Fortune Bay books.) The cottage would groan, but accepted us all, squeezing us into the small sleeping cabins scattered in the forest around the central cabin. Our favourite place to congregate was in the Muskoka room, a screened-in porch that was a must at dusk to hold back the mosquitoes.
|Clipped from an old cottage movie – it could be Alex’s Queen of the Lake.|
My father-in-law, the patriarch of the family, was a lawyer and eventually a judge, but up at the lake he was more like Alex’s grandfather than his lawyer father. There was a dock with a boathouse and a couple of boats, including canoes hung in slings against the far wall and a rowboat that we used daily. Early morning paddles on lake to the sound of loons were particularly magical.
My cabin at Fortune Bay is an amalgam of one of the cottages in the compound (the one with the washroom outside at the end of the porch), a cute white cottage down the lake that always seemed empty, and a cabin on the lake here on Vancouver Island. Like everything else I write, there is a touchstone of truth, although it is usually unrecognizable by the time it hits the page.
Eventually my in-laws could no longer manage the hill, and when the grandfather died, we were not as lucky as Alex and were not able to keep the cottage. A few years later I wrote Lake of Dreams, and didn't realize until later how many fond memories of summers on that Ontario lake had made it into the book. And, indeed, into all of the Fortune Bay books.
Learn more about Lake of Dreams, and how you can get it free, by clicking here.
Is there a place that is near and dear to your heart, where you can get away from your regular life and kick back? Or a place you remember where you’d love to return? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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