When I wrote my latest novel, A Haunting on Dunbar Lane, I was enjoying life on the sunny
coast of Florida, where we feast on grilled grouper and margaritas under the lazy palms. This is in sharp contrast with the setting of my novel which is on the chilly coast of northern California, not far from the Oregon border. There, Dungeness crab is the popular catch often served in a ciopinno—a tomato based stew served with tangy sourdough bread and a craft beer or local pinot, as one sits near a crackling fire pit, with the redwoods whispering overhead as the evening fog rolls in from the Pacific.
A Haunting on Dunbar Lane is a paranormal mystery whose topic was sparked following the death of my sister. Nearing death she spoke of my parents visiting her. One day I found her crying because she had told them to “go away”; she was thinking she might have hurt their feelings, but she wasn’t ready. As a nurse I have often been with people who are near death, and sometimes their conversation might be somewhat muddled due to medication, but I learned early on to take what was said seriously, especially when the patient asked me to call someone. People often know when their time is near.
After my sister’s death, I found myself wanting to know more about what life beyond might be like. And I was living in just the right place. In some ways, life in the Eureka/Arcata area in northern California, had often seemed like stepping back in time to the 70s. Life there is casual. People have year round gardens. Vegetarianism and Veganism are common—I learned the difference. Many raise their own chickens and they sometimes also have goats, whose milk is used to make cheese. (Example: Humboldt Fog) They use herbs and tinctures with which I was unfamiliar. There are palmists and people who practice tarot card readings. And they study spiritualism in many forms. I discovered health care avenues new to me—some more common now: acupuncture, reflexology and craniosacral therapy.
I began to take a few classes, learning about such things as chakras and astral travel. I learned the how and why of creating your own protective spiritual space, which I talk about in the novel. In learning about all these new things, I also learned about myself. In one class we did an exercise where we broke into pairs and tested the distance of each other’s protective space. We started at opposite ends of a hall and while one of us stayed in place, the other walked forward with arms reaching out, then stopping at the spot where we began to detect the other’s shield. The average was 2-3 feet, but mine was significantly more than that!
My novel introduces Celina Beck, a spiritualist, who is there to help the main character Elle with the problem of a spirit who is unwilling to cross over after death—one who has been wrecking havoc in the house and beyond. As with most aspects of life in our reality, there are the good and the difficult spirits on the other side—a fact confirmed by the spiritualist with whom I worked.
One interesting aspect concerning the cover design of the novel: I didn’t tell Annemieke, my
designer anything beyond our shared thought there should be an old Victorian on the cover. I was shocked when she sent the options which included the Pink Lady in Eureka! You can read more about this house and the Carson mansion: https://pincladymansion.com
As to Cioppino. It’s a classic Italian recipe which can include multiple shellfish. On the
northcoast, it’s typically just crab. Here’s Dorothy Scalvini’s recipe: I told her I didn’t like picking crab from its shell—it’s usually served in the shell and you crack it as you eat. For
cioppino, you then sop up the sauce with the sourdough. I had also told Dorothy I didn’t usually like any fish with a tomato sauce. She told me it was ok to crack the meat out of the shell first, but “be sure you leave the shells in the sauce as they were very important for the flavor”. She told me I would love it and I did! Hope you do too!
1 cube butter
1 can tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
2 large cans whole or chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped onion
1/3 cup wine
½ cup chopped parsley
Melt butter. Let simmer for a few minutes.
Add garlic, celery, onion and parsley. Simmer 10-15 minutes.
Add tomato paste and ½ can of water. Simmer 10-15 minutes.
Add tomatoes. Simmer 1 hour.
Add the cracked crab. Cook 1 hour.
M.E. Roche is the product of a Midwest upbringing, and has lived and worked on both coasts as well as in Ireland. As a registered nurse, she has had the opportunity to work in many facets of nursing. Now retired, she writes mystery novels and incorporates her knowledge of nursing.
Please visit me at www.meroche.com