Amazing Research Trip!

villa capriani.jpg
This trip turned out better than I imagined. I’ve gathered so much info! But first, I’ll show you a photo taken from the balcony of my neighbor’s  condo where I’m staying. Nice, huh? This is NOT typical of Topsail (pronounced “top-sul”) Island. You’ll see more typical architecture in other pixes.
Anyhow, the Realtor I met “by accident,” Lottie Koenig, has been a treasure! Yesterday, she and fellow Realtor Patsy Jordan and I had lunch. Patsy’s lived in North Topsail since 1985, and she helped me figure out where my stump sound.jpgcharacters  live–on Stump Sound. Here’s a view from “their” house. And here I am with Patsy and Lottie.
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Patsy told me about a teenage girl who lives near her: Jackpot! There are not many teens living on the Island, especially in North Topsail (around ten), so I’d given up on the idea of being able to speak with one, but Patsy made a call and later that afternoon, I met with Anna, a sixteen-year-old girl who was simply a delight. I learned what life would be like for Andy and Allie (or whatever her name turns out to be!), where they would go to school etc, what recreational activities would be available for them, etc. It was super.
Here are some more pictures I took yesterday.
n topsail houses 1.jpgAt the northern end of the island stand these condemed homes, between the puny dunes and the ocean. This is where I’ll be setting an important house in my story, so I was very interested to investigate these homes.
house n topsail.jpgHouses near the water are built on stilts, for obvious reasons. This is one of the condemned homes.
round house.jpgThe house in my story, though, will be round, like this one. I think I’m choking my blog–it’s protesting! So i’ll continue later. I just finished a two and a half hour interview with the asst firechief and some of the firefighters. Everyone’s been so great about sharing what they know. Bye for now.


  1. Margo on October 5, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    These pics are wonderful Diane and your wip is really making me feel like part of
    the story. Thx so much for sharing everything so far…never been to Topsoil but
    sure feel like I have after today’s blog from you…I’m especially fascinated with the
    round house!…oh, it is SO hard waiting for this book but the research you share
    makes the wait worthwhile.

    • Jennifer Woodin on January 1, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      Do you know the name of the round house? My friend had a wedding there some time ago and I’m looking into renting it again. Problem is I can’t find it in the listings

      • Diane Chamberlain on January 1, 2016 at 7:00 pm

        Jennifer, I’m sorry but I don’t know the name. I hope you can find it!

  2. Sandy in NC on October 5, 2006 at 6:58 pm

    Just found your blog and love it! I’ve read a couple of your books and am looking forward to reading more. Topsail is wonderful in the fall. Have a wonderful and productive trip!

  3. Kathy Holmes on October 6, 2006 at 8:42 am

    What a fabulous looking place! Now I’m going to have to read the book. 🙂

  4. Margo on October 6, 2006 at 9:06 am

    This might be a weird question but why are some of these homes on the beach condemned? I’m quessing from water damage or hurricanes? From the pics, they look ‘ok’…

  5. Diane Chamberlain on October 6, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    margo, the houses have been condemned a long time, some are listing to the side, rotting inside, and often the septic systems have been washed away making them uninhabitable. although the beach looks fine there now, in a bad storm the ocean washes up and over that entire end of the island. i’ll try to put up a map later so you can see how fragile it is there. in the picture, you can see the dunes behind the house are teeny. dunes should be IN FRONT of houses and much larger to protect from the water. so any protective dunes are completely gone. this is, unfortunately, typical at these beaches. you can buy a house three houses back from the beach and know with a pretty good certainty that you’ll have beachfront property one day!

  6. Diane Chamberlain on October 6, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    Sandy, welcome to the blog. I’m going to zip over to yours when i get some time–it looks intriguing! where in NC are you?

  7. Bea Toth on October 9, 2006 at 8:37 am

    Dear Diane, I´ve never been to Topsoil Island but I know Lottie Koenig and I agree with you: she´s an absolutely wonderful person. I´m very proud to call her my friend. I´m happy she´s part of the making of your story and that you have met her.

  8. Diane on October 9, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    Hi Bea,
    Yes, i really lucked out when I stumbled into Lottie’s real estate office!

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