Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

This Is Cape Cod

Cape Cod National Seashore

Welcome to Moonlight and Mystery!  We are glad you have visited and hope you’ll come by every Friday to read about some of the fascinating places we’ve set our novels!  Sometimes a setting can serve as a character in and of itself, whether it’s a cozy small town, a bustling city, a seaside harbor, an exotic foreign country, a mysterious bayou, a Gothic castle…the possibilities are endless, but the author usually has a good reason to choose a setting, and we’re going to explore some of those reasons—without spoilers, of course—and we’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

Two of my novels—and my nearly complete 5th manuscript—are set on Cape Cod, which is where I’ve lived for the past 20 years.  Authors often “write what we know”, and I’ll admit, it is easier to write about somewhere you’re intimately familiar with.  But Cape Cod also makes an interesting setting for many reasons: it’s basically an island, connected only to the rest of the U.S. by two bridges.  That isolates us a bit, and it can make getting on or off very difficult, especially in the summer, when the population swells with vacationers and summer residents coming to enjoy all our fabulous beaches, over 1,000 lakes and ponds, abundant woods, quaint towns, and historic sites.

Cover resembles Cobb’s Hill Cemetery

I set Haunted Souls, a steamy second-chance romance/ghost mystery, in Barnstable Village, which is steeped in much of that history.  The initial inspiration for this book came for a ghost tour I went on with my sister.  It started and ended at what’s known here as the Old Jail, and it’s truly a historic gem.  It’s the oldest wooden jail house in the entire country, actually, and is thought to have been built in 1690, on orders from the Plymouth and MA Bay Colony Courts.  It was in use until the 1800s, and was moved around a bit, eventually attached to a barn.  It was rediscovered in 1968, detached from the barn, and moved next to the Coast Guard museum on 6A.

The structure itself is quite small, containing three cells which held large numbers of people sometimes.  According to our guide, conditions were rough and people had to take turns lying down to sleep when cells were crowded.  As you can imagine, many people died, and the site is considered actively haunted.

Goody Hallett, the lover of the infamous pirate Samuel Bellamy, was imprisoned there in 1716, and is said to be one of the ghosts in residence.  If you’re so inclined, you can even pay to spend the night at the Jail.  On our tour, we were shown photographs with shadowy figures taken by volunteers who work in the jail house.  A few of the volunteers shared their stories as well, and one claimed that a ghost had followed them home and engaged in some poltergeist-like activities.  Well, that got my attention right way, and my imagination started churning.  My sister had her little daughter with her, and I started to wonder what would happen if a young child with sensitive abilities took pity on a lost soul, and actually invited a ghost to come home with them.  The initial idea was born.

 

The Old Jail, circa 1690. I took this photo when the building was empty and locked up, but it looks like something is in the upstairs window!

As I developed the story, a number of other spots on Cape Cod made appearances: The enormous military base we have here (referred to still as “Otis” by many) came into play as the reason my military hero returned to his hometown.  Snake Pond, the Popponesset Bay and Peninsula (“The Spit”), The 180 acre Old Jail Lane conservation area, and some ancient graveyards, to name a few.  To complete part of the plot, I had to research the Cape’s past as well, which was fascinating, and I share some of that in the novel.

Snake Pond, near the Air Force Base

What about you?  Do you have a favorite setting in terms of books you like to read?  Have you ever visited the Cape, or would you like to in the future?  Chime in!

And to take a virtual visit Cape Cod in a steamy romance/spooky suspense, check out Haunted Souls or Gull Harbor!

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17 COMMENTS
  • Beth Trissel
    Reply

    Kathryn, this post is fascinating! It does look like something or someone is in the upstairs window.

    1. Kathryn Knight
      Reply

      Thanks, Beth! That picture is a bit spooky!

  • suzanne jenkins
    Reply

    Thank you so much for a fascinating post! I can’t wait to read the series now.

    1. Kathryn Knight
      Reply

      Thanks Suzanne! The two novels are stand-alones but do have some crossover characters 😀

  • Tamara Ferguson
    Reply

    Looks great Kathryn. Fascinating!!

    1. Kathryn Knight
      Reply

      Thank you Tamara, I love learning about the history of places, especially where there are ghosts involved!

  • BrendaWhiteside
    Reply

    Fascinating. You live in a part of the country I’ve never been. I like reading books set in places that take me there.

    1. Kathryn Knight
      Reply

      It’s so fun to “visit” places in novels, isn’t it? I always try to throw in a little interesting history of every setting I use, since I enjoy that as a reader. Thanks for commenting, Brenda!

  • Casi
    Reply

    Great post. The setting is sooo important to every story. And speaking of…I Love Gull Harbor and Haunted Souls!

    1. Kathryn Knight
      Reply

      Thanks, Casi! I love hearing that 🙂 And I can’t wait to hopefully read more about the mysterious Lake Lanier in your neck of the woods! (did I spell that right?)

  • Sharon Buchbinder
    Reply

    I lived on Cape Cod for a summer in Hyannis as a factory worker–Colonial Candle. TBH, I never saw the nice side of the Cape. Just the factory. Thanks for showing me the other side! 😉

    1. Kathryn Knight
      Reply

      How interesting! But I can imagine it really wasn’t the most effective way to see what the Cape has to offer, lol. Glad you were able to stop by and see a bit more, even if virtually!

  • Emma Kaye
    Reply

    Great post, Kathryn! Ghost tours seem like a lot of fun, and I can imagine would spark so many story ideas! I was in Gettysburg recently and they had people selling tours every two steps. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to go on one. Maybe next time.

    1. Kathryn Knight
      Reply

      Thanks, Emma! I bet a ghost tour in Gettysburg would be fascinating, I’ve heard it is one of the most haunted places there is. Hopefully I’ll get to go on one too someday.

  • Maureen Bonatch
    Reply

    This is fabulous, Kathryn! I love the picture of the old jail and the story behind it.

  • Alicia Dean
    Reply

    Wow, I’m enthralled with your pictures and with the details of your setting. I’ve never been to Cape Cod, but I would absolutely LOVE to go there. Probably to live there. I am so jealous of the ghost tours! I’m looking forward to reading the books of yours I haven’t read yet. Love the spooky vibe!

  • The Book That Made Me Love Ghosts + Romance - Moonlight And Mystery
    Reply

    […] missed our last one, each author discussed fun details about the setting of one of her books; start here with my post on Cape Cod!)  Today we begin a look back at a book from our youth that inspired us […]

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