March 2018 – “Book Inspirations”

My new novel LOST INHERITANCE publishes on April 3rd. This is my eleventh novel set around the Smoky Mountains. The short publisher description on the back of the book says: “Set amid the charm of downtown Gatlinburg in the Smoky Mountains, Lin Stepp’s LOST INHERITANCE explores how shattering loss can lead to happiness and gain.” … A fitting description. Main character Emily Lamont learns, as the story begins, that an improperly executed will has cut her out of inheriting the prestigious gallery in downtown Philadelphia where she works. Stunned and with few other options, Emily retreats to a small mountain gallery in Gatlinburg she did inherit—a smaller life by far than she is used to. She hopes for happiness and a new beginning but soon bangs heads with Cooper Garrison, who feels bitter his mother didn’t inherit the gallery instead of her. And so begins this story of two young people life has dealt losses and disappointments to more than once. I hope you will enjoy their story and visiting in the Gatlinburg area of the Smokies.

Ideas for books come from many different sources. The idea for this new book came from a true life, similar story that happened to my long-time friend Jayne Matthews.  I was unaware a will could be overturned on a technicality and remember Jayne’s own disappointment over an inheritance that an aunt and uncle meant to leave her being disbursed to others. I dedicated this book to Jayne, who died a few years ago, much too young. Pictured with Santa in this photo, Jayne—always ready with a good story—will be forever loved and remembered with fondness by her many friends.

Often animals belonging to my friends and fans inspire pets I create for my stories. In LOST INHERITANCE both my main characters own a dog. Emily’s dog is a proper, refined standard poodle, named Mercedes, used to life in downtown Philadelphia. Cooper’s dog Brinkley is a warm-hearted, lovable golden retriever, used to rambles in the outdoors around  the mountains. Mercedes was inspired by my fan Lisa Keever’s big gray poodle Sadie Belle and Brinkley by Kensington CEO Steven Zacharius’ golden retriever by the same name. I featured a gallery cat in this book, too, named Sugar Lips, who welcomes guests to the Creekside Gallery on the River Road. Sugar Lips belongs to my fan Charlene Povia. Sugar Lips is hardly the head of the welcoming committee when Mercedes arrives at the gallery but they grow used to each other as the book progresses.  As Emily explores a neighborhood near the gallery and her apartment, she meets Sara and her little white bichon freise Buster.  The girls become friends and often walk their dogs together.  Buster was inspired by neighbors Ken and Sandra Owens’ two white bishons, Ginger and Tucker. Special thanks to Lisa Keever, Steven Zacharius, Charlene Povia, and Whitney Owen for providing photos of their pets for this blog post.

Main character Emily Lamont in this story works at the Creekside Gallery and also builds dollhouses. In a later scene in the book, Emily talks about the Dollhouse Shop her parents once owned in the Bearden neighborhood in Knoxville. I used to take my children to that charming little shop in the Homberg area when they were small. We enjoyed looking at the miniature dollhouses, dolls, and furnishings for sale and we sometimes got to watch the owner working on a new house. The shop is empty now but I drove there today to take this photo. It’s still such a cute place, reminding me of good memories—just as Emily is reminded of sweet memories when she sees it again, too.

The story’s other main character, Cooper Garrison, builds log homes and loves the outdoors. He soon takes Emily on hikes around the mountains … and he and Emily often walk their dogs on the nearby Gatlinburg Trail. This is one of the few trails in the Smokies that allows dogs on the trail. It is popular with locals and visitors for that reason and because the trail winds along the creekside and past remnants of old houses, chimneys, and other relics of the settlers who once lived there. The Gatlinburg Trail is an easy trail for any to enjoy while visiting the area, as is the Old Sugarlands Trail nearby, that Cooper and Emily explore in the story another day. Both these trails are ones we have hiked often, so our memories of good times there were fun to create for my scenes in LOST INHERITANCE.

Many inspirations behind an author’s books are totally fictitious but sometimes the places, people, pets, and adventures are based on real memories. Good writing advice says to “write what you know” … so often what I know and love finds its way into my books. I loved creating this new story in Gatlinburg … and hope you will enjoy this new novel, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s