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  • Writer's pictureCherie Claire

Travel writing's a tough job

brandon hall

I wear two hats with my writing. I'm a travel writer by day and an author by night. Actually, I sometimes travel by night and write fiction by day but you get the idea. And because I write a mystery series where my main character is a travel writer, I do a lot of my book research traveling through the places I write about.

It's a great dove-tailing experience, with lots of perks. This week it was sleeping in a four-poster bed in a gorgeous ante-bellum home.

I'm currently working on book three in my Viola Valentine paranormal mystery series and this book (tentatively titled "A Trace of a Ghost") takes place along the historic Natchez Trace, a 444-mile colonial highway that stretches from Natchez to Nashville. Part of the National Park Service, the Natchez Trace is a destination in itself, full of historic sites, parks, campgrounds, Native American mounds, ghost towns — and sometimes ghosts. It's a designated parkway so cars can only go as fast as 50 mph and you'll find lots of bicyclists and hikers along this pristine stretch of Americana.

This past summer, I drove from Tupelo down to Natchez, filling my brain with all kinds of great ideas for the book. This past weekend, I visited Natchez for a magazine article I'm working on and was blessed to stay at Brandon Hall Plantation, a gorgeous plantation home located right on the Trace about 15 minutes outside of Natchez. This enormous house offers several bedrooms for guests, a grand southern breakfast in the morning, tours and landscaped acreage that includes a pond, a graveyard, wooded areas, live oak trees and more. And one of the sweetest aspects of your stay will be Clark, Fred and George (that's either Fred or George to the right, named for the Harry Potter twins). They're three adorable cats who make their presence known immediately, jumping in your lap, following you around the gardens, and giving you nothing but love.

The owners of the cats, Kaiser and Ashley, purchased the circa-1856 house several months ago and are adding nice touches. Kaiser's mother specializes in weddings, and this spread couldn't be more perfect.

Below are photos from my stay.

Does Viola Valentine stay here in book three? And are there ghosts to interrupt her sleep? What do you think?

brandon hall

My bedroom at Brandon Hall Plantation outside Natchez along the Natchez Trace.

brandon hall

The breakfast table.

brandon hall

The front porch. This was the view from my bedroom.

Brandon Hall cabins.

Brandon Hall pond. Note the bald cypress trees turning colors.

My pals Fred and Clark.

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