When I began writing Ashes on the Waves, I knew it had to be set in a place that was completely isolated from modern society. Since Edgar Allan Poe was an American poet and writer, I wanted the story to take place it in the United States. I originally set it on a remote strip of Maine coastline, but decided I needed an island in order to make it harder for Anna to leave and outsiders to visit.
After I had written the first one hundred or so pages, I drew a map of the island I had created. I then did an internet search for islands off of the coast of Maine. I came across a link that made me leap out of my chair. "It exists!" I shouted to my husband, and we got on a plane to go visit Monhegan Island the next week. Good thing he likes my spontaneity.
Everything about the island reminded me of my fictitious island of Dòchas with the exception of two things: It was not hard enough to get to--we had to fly into Portland, rent a car and drive to a small port town, and then ride for an hour on a mail boat. This was a hassle and time consuming, but not impossible. The second thing was that it was too populated to be Dòchas (Monhegan had 50 or so permanent residents). Still, the island itself was exactly what I had envisioned. We visited in August, the week it was shutting down for the winter, and all visitors were leaving. Only some of the hardier artists and lobster fishermen would remain behind. Here are some pictures from Monhegan Island and Port Clyde that illustrate what I had envisioned when I created the Island of Dòchas.
A lobster fishing boat like the one Pa would use.
The ice pond.
A view from the cliff side trail.
A view inside a well.
The house Liam moves into after the fire. (Note Liam's shed in right edge of picture.)
A trail leading to the cliffs.
A view from the cliffs.
The beautiful wooded coastline.
A rock wall like the one marking the Leighton Estate, Taibhreamh.
The varied terrain of the island took me by surprise. The woods.
The rocky beach.
Another view of the gorgeous coastline.
The mail boat we took to the island from the mainland.
The handsome guy in red is my husband, Laine.