Happy Places by Carol J. Perry


“So come with me where dreams are born,

And time is never planned.

Just think of happy things

and your heart will fly on wings,

forever in Never Never Land.”

 Peter Pan

Carol Perry, Gulfport

One of my go-to cozy blogs had a recent piece on the ways we writers choose to “recharge our batteries.” A varied and interesting assortment of ideas were offered ranging from hotels to hot tubs; pets to pedicures. All of them sounded good to me. Sometimes—actually fairly often—taking time away from the computer to do something for a little while that makes us happy will give a quick charge to those unpredictable creative batteries. Whether it’s something as simple as petting a soft cat or relaxing in a bubble bath; having a pampering pink-toed pedicure or a weekend at a Holiday Inn Express–just like the lost boys in Peter Pan, we can take a break and go to a “Happy Place.”

In my Witch City Mystery series, one of my heroine Lee Barrett’s  happy places is the home where she was raised in the magical city of Salem. Massachusetts—the house on Winter Street. One of the great pleasures in writing fiction is the ability we writers have to move people, things and places around in time and space. That house on Winter Street in Salem is such a place.

When I was a little girl, growing up in Salem, my friend Judy Adams lived on Winter Street in that very same house. (Well, almost. the same. In my stories  I’ve  had to move a few rooms around and I added a top floor.)  I loved going to Judy’s house. There was a beautiful wide oak staircase with a smooth bannister for sliding. Judy’s family had a real formal dining room with a long table and fresh flowers. Judy’s room had a four-poster bed and wide cushioned window seats and a fireplace. The house on Winter Street was, in fact, one of my own earliest happy places. I’ve since taken great pleasure in giving that house to my fictional friend, Lee Barrett.

As a matter of fact, I’ve moved quite a few people, places and things from my own memories and into the Witch City world I’ve built for Lee and her Aunt Ibby and Lee’s detective boyfriend Pete.  Lee owns a real 1970s Lucite kitchen set which I once saw (and coveted but could not afford to buy) in a Gainesville Florida antiques shop. Lee and I are both avid Nancy Drew fans, but Lee is the one who drives the blue roadster convertible. (In Lee’s case, read Corvette Stingray with all the bells and whistles.) I drive a plain but serviceable red Jeep. My friend  Loren Beha has the zebra print wing chair which is Lee’s mysterious and quite wonderful cat O’Ryan’s favorite seat, and Aunt Ibby’s living room is just like the one in that long-ago Winter Street house, right down to the sofa pillows.

I wonder if other writers share their own happy places with the characters in their books. I’ll bet they do and I’ll bet it makes them happy too!


A dead ballplayer means foul play in Salem…

Field reporter Lee Barrett is not happy that her hours are being cut back at WICH-TV, although it is nice to spend more time volunteering with Aunt Ibby, a research librarian at Salem’s main branch. But Lee’s least favorite task is going up to the stacks, a spooky, seldom-frequented upper section of the library. On this day she has good reason to be afraid—she finds a dead man, surrounded by hundreds of scattered books and torn-out pages.

Her police detective beau, Pete Mondello, is soon on the scene, and the deceased is identified as a former minor league baseball player—and ex-con—named Wee Willie Wallace, who hasn’t been seen in Salem for twenty years. With help from her friend River’s Tarot reading, her clairvoyant cat O’Ryan, and Lee’s own psychic gifts, she steps up to the plate to catch the killer who took the old ballplayer out of the game…

Praise for the Witch City Mysteries

“Perfectly relaxing and readable.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This rewarding paranormal cozy series debut will have Victoria Laurie fans lining up to follow.” —Library Journal

“An entertaining story that keeps readers guessing until the very twisted and eerie end.” —RT Book Reviews