Location, Location, Location

TOPIC: Story World Building

Many of you have read or heard about our book, The Lost Heir, so my writing partners and I were thinking that maybe some of you might like to see who the “skyside” world in The Lost Heir came to be.

**skyside=Above ground (as this world also includes vast environs below ground).

There are two major locations considered skyside in the novel: Brightwood Studios and The Foxworthy Hotel.  As a writing team, over the course of about two years, we visited many places to write and take notes. The year and a half after that, we spent in edits and publishing this title, along with my other book, Forget Me Not. Thank you, Booktrope Publishing for helping make that happen.

When it came to building the world of The Lost Heir, we decided on occasion to get outside of the house and work in blissful settings that might inspire the story locations fluttering around in our imaginations. We looked no further than the city we live in, Los Angeles, CA. I am a native of the area, and I think it’s my imagination that holds the novel’s world the most, but I feel that Erin Virginia and Grace Arden are powerful forces that swirl around in it and give it new life. But where did all this life and this world spark from?

Inspirations for BRIGHTWOOD STUDIOS

The Culver Studios is the movie studio that inspired Brightwood Studios in The Lost Heir. We spent a lot of time walking along the outer rim. Though we’ve been inside briefly, we have not had the full tour yet. But when we stayed as guests at the Culver Hotel, we had a good view of it from our windows. From the best of our views, we found out what it might have looked like as Isabella looked out of her window onto Brightwood Studios. See below. Cool huh?

Below is the 2oth Century Fox backlot. A good deal of Brightwood’s backlot is based on this studio, which is about five miles from Culver Studios. I have been on this backlot a few times more times than Culver so it was easier for me (Allison) to picture this one. Also, Brightwood is about halfway between the size of the Culver Studios and Fox lot. Though Sony Studios is closer to our main location, the only thing I think we used as inspiration is that lot’s main gate…It once used to be good old MGM. Yay for Leo the Lion!

THE FOXWORTHY HOTEL

The Culver Hotel is the hotel we spend the most time in and was the primary inspiration for The Foxworthy Hotel. I guess you could say The Culver Hotel is our hero. Practically adjacent to Culver Studios, just like The Foxworthy is nearly attached to the fictional Brightwood Studios in The Lost Heir, The Culver Hotel was always accommodating and friendly when we’d spend hours there working with our laptops. Some of the staff members even made into the book! We’ve had several tours of the hotel and as we mentioned earlier have rented rooms a few times to make sure we soaked up the classic Hollywood charm that the stunning boutique hotel has to offer. The Foxworthy is meant to be much larger than The Culver Hotel. We had to do that so we could make sure it has plenty of places to move and get lost in. But The Culver Hotel itself is not without its own magic and mystery. Talk to the staff and you’ll hear stories of the ghosts of Hollywood past. Legend has it that there is even an old tunnel underneath the hotel that led to MGM (now Sony lot). Sorry, people, it got plugged up… or so they say.

Below is the gazebo at The Ritz Carlton, Marina del Rey. We only went to this hotel once to write, but we loved the back garden and the staircase that led to it so much that we decided to make it the inspiration for the gardens behind the ballroom The Lily Field Ballroom in The Lost Heir. This gazebo looks like it comes from a magic world, doesn’t it?  It definitely opened up our imaginations to beautiful ideas.

We visited the Chateau Marmont and felt it was as spooky and grand as The Foxworthy. The Foxworthy, again, is larger than the famed Hollywood Hotel, but lacks the bungalows the Marmont is famous for. Also, there aren’t many wild celebrity parties at The Foxworthy — in the first book, anyway. 😉 We created a funny character whom you’ll meet later in the series just before we went inside that. It was a fun visit, but since we were afraid to break something, we decided to leave after about an hour. They seemed nice enough though.

The Beverly Hills Hotel‘s Cabana Cafe was a fun place to have lunch and write. We shared steak quesadillas and had amazing cocktails. Yes. We are over 21. We had a great time discussing Isabella’s life and family legacy at this historic Los Angeles landmark. We did not base specific decor of the hotel in The Lost Heir, but we do imagine Isabella and her grandmother’s suite to look a bit like the interiors of the bungalows. The hotel staff clothing in our novel is also similar to that of the BH Hotel staff’s. Thank you Pink Palace for always being so friendly and making our poor writer girl days filled with hopes and dreams.

We also spent some time at The Roosevelt Hotel for inspiration. It’s bigger. It’s Hollywood. It’s legendary. We could not skip it.  So what happened on the first, second then and third visit? We just ended up eating giant burgers at their Average Joe and Jane restaurant, 25 Degrees, situated at the back of the hotel. Nothing specifically in The Lost Heir is based on the Roosevelt, other than this restaurant. The food at Betty’s is a combo of the food here, The Culver Hotel, The Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles, and, of course, Musso & Frank!

That’s it! There will be many more places visited in the series, but unfortunately, there is no underground Violet City, but I’m sure we’ll find ways to make do. Oh, note: Isabella’s school (St. Agnes) is based on Immaculate Heart School for Girls as well as Marymount High School. We did visit the below location to map out Isabella’s run from the bullies with Pythian and decided to place her school, St. Agnes, in a fictional location near the 8600 block of Sunset Blvd, known as Sunset Plaza. Fun times! We actually walked the chase path. We had a lot of fun.

Sunset Plaza, Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA -- setting for Part 2 of Chapter 1

Sunset Plaza, Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA — setting for Part 2 of Chapter 1

We’ve had a great time getting prepped for the novel. Now it’s time to work on its sequel. Since we know the world so well now, we are ready to write it and the rest of what we will call The Diadem Chronicles much more quickly!

Happy 2016!

**Dedicated to Alan Rickman, a wonderful actor and talent.

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