Revisiting Ghost Trippin’ in Texas
Like my character Viola Valentine, I work as a travel writer, perusing the South (mostly) for great stories, some of which have made their way into my novels. I recently visited Galveston, Texas, along the Gulf of Mexico and stayed at the absolutely gorgeous Grand Galvez Hotel. This elegant, historic grand dame hotel was built in 1900 and was known as the “Queen of the Gulf.”
It’s a ghostly road trip. Viola’s father, John Valentine, left home for a science conference and never returned and his family chalked it up to the divorced father’s mid-life crisis. But when a body is found on the old family homestead in Alabama, Viola must put aside her anger at her father and piece together the clues her father left behind. The path to the truth takes Viola on a wild road trip through Texas where she must solve a host of mysteries to discover what became of her father. Along for the ride are her witchy Aunt Mimi, her uptight lawyer sister Portia and her sometimes ex-husband Thibault Boudreaux, otherwise known as TB. What they discover on this crazy ghost trip through Texas will be much more than they anticipated. The plot builds to when the family visits Galveston and what happens there will change Viola's life forever.
It’s where Viola and TB come to terms with their relationship.
It’s where I introduce FBI Agent Clayton Ginsburg, who will be front and center in my next book in the series, “Ghost Lights,” set in Alaska.
It’s where I spotlight Texas detective Wanda Juarez, who also makes a cameo in my next book.
Here are some photos of my recent stay and where things happened in the book:
Upper right (with balcony) is where Vi and TB stay in "Ghost Trippin'". It's also one of the most haunted rooms in the hotel. The story goes that a woman named Audra waiting for her fiancé was told he perished at sea. Heartbroken, she hung herself from the attic (when it was open to guests). It turned out her fiancé was alive, after all. When I stayed in that room, my iPad went off to the Cat Stevens' song, "But I Might Die Tonight."
During my recent stay at the hotel, my clock died at 6 a.m., then it came back on later in the day only to die again at 6 a.m. the next morning. My ghost app on my phone gave me the name "Ellen." When I researched ghosts in the hotel, a previous article stated that the reporter also got Ellen on her phone app. Every night I said, "Goodnight, Ellen."
This is the grand lobby of the hotel with the restaurant to the left. Viola met with FBI Agent Clayton Ginsburg for breakfast here.
This painting of Spanish Governor Bernardo Galvez is said to be haunted. His eyes do follow you around the room but people are known to spot a skull in the artwork. He is just one of many ghosts who frequent the hotel.
Galvez headed Louisiana in the 1700s when it was under Spanish rule. When Spain joined France in the American Revolution, Galvez collected troops made up of Louisiana residents and the newly arrived Cajuns and took Manchac and Baton Rouge. You can read about this amazing military feat in my historical romance, "Gabrielle," part of my Cajun Series.
At left, the hotel at night. At right, me in the elevator where Viola and TB have a romantic moment. (Hint, it's rather steamy.)
The Grand Galvez was known as Hotel Galvez when I visited and wrote the book. Today, it's been renovated by new owners and will be part of the Marriott soon. Note the new colors!