Sipping Seaside in San Clemente …

One of the less-angsty parts of writing a novel is doing fun research on your locations.

And the book I’m writing now is set about 20 minutes from me, in adorable San Clemente.

I chose San Clemente because it’s one of the least populated beach towns in Orange County and still has a cool, “old school California” vibe about it. It’s the most southern city you can possibly visit in OC before a long, long freeway drive through nothingness into San Diego County, and therefore it’s too remote for most people. For that reason, San Clemente always has a “locals only” feel to it, which is what I wanted for my novel. Plus, I set it there because it has some of the best surf in OC; it’s home to The Surfrider Foundation, a world-renown environmental group; it spawned the two biggest magazines in the industry, Surfer and Surfing magazines; it houses numerous board-shapers; boasts a chunk of the apparel, gear, suits, boards and more in the $6 billion surf industry; and is home to tons of competitive surfers over the years. Oh, and did I mention the great surf? Since my hero is a professional surfer, this just seemed like his home.

Anyway, although I’ve been there many times (we have friends who live there, I used to write for a client there, plus we even stayed at a beach house there two different years), I realized suddenly — when I went to write  a scene that takes place on San Clemente Pier — that I’d never been to the pier!

San Clemente’s pier is a little hidden away, after several loopy roads, so it’s not something you automatically stumble into like the other five piers in Orange County. But look how pretty it is. I can’t believe I’ve missed this all these years:

Superman and I made a date out of it after work one evening. We scoped the area for my heroine’s apartment where she stays:

I found the sidewalk where my heroine and some of the secondary characters walk down to the beach:

We wandered the pier to check out the view:


And ate at the restaurant they’ll probably eat at, The Fisherman’s:


And of course we had a few drinks, some great dinner, and a great time watching the sunset:


This might have been my most relaxing novel-writing evening in eons!

Now my job is to bring this beautiful place to life on the page — with only words. 🙂

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8 thoughts on “Sipping Seaside in San Clemente …

  1. Great setting for a book, a romance. I loved San Clemente.

    A couple summers in a row, I went camping with my best friend’s family down in San Clemente at the beginning of the ’80s. Loved waking up each morning in the cool beach air, the steep walk down to the beach, all the cute surfers, listening Journey’s Stone in Love, Jackson Browne, Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust, hanging out by the campfire in our beach chairs, sipping hot chocolate and the promise of sizzling bacon and eggs cooked in the bacon grease. Cribbage games on the picnic bench. Six people laughing so hard in the bed at might that the while amoer would shake. And those glorious sunsets, yes.

  2. Barbara, I just love your response! I can completely see the scene you painted! 🙂 I know San Clemente has two really popular campgrounds that always get written up in Best of Orange County because they still offer that “old school California” vibe that’s becoming kind of rare. You’ve made me want to try camping there now! I might have to put that on my list of things to do!

  3. Aw! I love San Clemente! I lived there for two years when I was 22-24. Imagine my joy when, after packing up my car in late December in Ohio and driving across country, I arrived in my new town of San Clemente where it was sunny and warm! And I even had a view of the ocean from my condo! Sometimes I would run down the hill from my condo to the end of the pier (about a mile). Perhaps Dan and I will have to go back there soon for a date night; it’s such a wonderful place. I can’t wait to read your book that features it:-)

  4. I really want to go there too, now. Your pictures look so inviting and I couldn’t help but notice that the place mat said “seattle” on it too! I am sure you will have no problem describing this with words….that’s what you do! =-)

  5. Carrie, I didn’t know you lived in a condo there!!! I’ll have to tap you for some ideas about my characters! Yes, I can only imagine what it must have been like to arrive there from Ohio — it’s really rather idyllic. You must’ve thought you’d stepped into a movie set! Let’s touch base. …

  6. Oh, yes, Debi! There are only two locations, apparently — San Clemente and Seattle! So you can try to find the one up north and let us know how it is!

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