Michelle Isenhoff

My Savannah Trip!

I’ve been able to milk out my Ella Wood trilogy for not just one fabulous trip to the South, but TWO. My husband and I combined our 18th anniversary with research for Ella Wood (book 1) when I had just started writing it back in 2014 with a trip to Charleston, SC. For our 20th, which we celebrated this past December, I got to do it again! This time we chose Savannah, which featured Blood Moon (book 2). Most of the book actually takes place in Charleston and Baltimore, with only a few scenes in Savannah. Still. How cool is a trip to Savannah! Since the book was published six months before our trip, it wasn’t technically a research trip, but it was really fun to see the places I’d spent time learning about. And a few places we visited will feature in the third and final book, Ebb Tide, due out in May.
Here’s a few a lot of pics…

Me and the hubs fresh off the plane on our first walk-around as we waited to check into our hotel.

Harper Fowlkes Mansion, built prior to the Civil War. I originally set the wedding reception in Blood Moon in this building, but the scene was eventually deleted. Still fun to tour it.

A really cheesy selfie of me and the hubs overlooking the Factor’s Walk where Thad’s father supposedly worked as a cotton broker.

West end of Water Street. These buildings were once cotton warehouses. The river is located immediately to the left and was once a busy dockside district.

There’s a steep bluff leading down to the waterfront, which I’d read about and described in Blood Moon. I was glad to find I described it pretty accurately. Thanks Google Maps street view! The original (steep!) brick and stone stairs are all over the place with these signs that made me chuckle. We did watch one drunk guy navigate them and thought for sure he was going to fall down and break his crown.

The Savannah Theater, where Emily saw…nope, not going to give it away. But the theater featured prominently in Blood Moon. Here it is today, on the same plot of ground, though it burned since 1863 and has been rebuilt.

The following three pictures are of the Marshall House, built in 1851, where we stayed. It was SO COOL to stay in the same hotel my character stayed at during her 1863 visit. It’s been beautifully restored, and the rooms have been reconfigured (no more men’s smoking parlor), but it’s got the original stairs and creaky floors and so. much. character! It’s also located right on Broughton Street, the main shopping/eating strip in the historic district, only three blocks from the waterfront and right in the middle of the “squares”. Highly recommend it if you ever go.

A fireplace in the hallway? Yup, reconfigured rooms.

The lobby. Just to the left of the stairs was the sitting area where heard a local historian give a lecture on the history of the hotel and the city while we sipped wine and munched on cheese. Very elegant.

Okay, one more of the Marshall House because we’re in it…four pounds heavier after all that good Savannah food.

The Old Cemetery, mentioned in Blood Moon and dating back to the original settlement (1731?). It’s considered one of the “green spaces” in the city. Kinda funny, back in the late 1700s or early 1800s, some of ladies in the DAR thought they’d beautify the cemetery by adding the original tabby sidewalks. So they removed a whole bunch of gravestones and paved right over everyone. Then they realized no one kept track of where the grave markers came from. They are now fastened to one of the walls surrounding the cemetery. There’s a lot of them. Poor unmarked dead guys…

One of the original roads leading down the bluff to the waterfront, lined with cobblestones once used as ballast in the ships that made port here. Cheap, convenient paving material, but BUMPY.

One of the unique “squares”, dating back to General Oglethorpe’s original plan for the settlement, that gives the city such an old world charm.

Christ Church, where Emily attended a wedding in 1863…

Atop Fort Pulaski, where the Union’s rifled artillery first rendered masonry forts obsolete and blocked off the port of Savannah for the duration of the Civil War. (The island has been added to significantly after dredging projects. The water once came close to that moat you can see between our ears.)

This is Hilton Head Island overlooking Port Royal Sound where the naval Battle of Port Royal established a Union beachhead early in the war (Nov. 1861). The Union used Hilton Head as a base of operations for the Atlantic blockade as well as operations against the coastline, particularly those against Charleston.

And just for fun, this is me enjoying a HUGE and delicious meal at the Crab Shack on Tybee Island. I ate the whole thing!

And finally, here’s my plug for Ebb Tide (book 3), which I’m currently writing. This is the location of Fort Howell (Union), which was built on Hilton Head Island to protect the nearby town of Mitchellville, a freeman’s village composed of slaves left behind when Whites fled the Union takeover. Mitchellville was part of the Port Royal Project, a humanitarian attempt to educate former slaves, set up a free black community, and pay them wages for the cotton they grew for the Union. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was a fascinating attempt to right wrongs and a small picture of what Reconstruction COULD have looked like. The program was disbanded after Johnson became president and the land was returned to its former owners. Mitchellville and the Port Royal Project feature in Ebb Tide. It’s due out in May!

Baltimore is the only major setting in the Ella Wood trilogy I haven’t visited yet. Maybe next year. And if the hubs keeps agreeing to visit my settings, maybe on to Scotland? Switzerland? South Africa? The Andes Mountains? 🙂 Where should I set my next book?

My Savannah Trip!

12 thoughts on “My Savannah Trip!

    1. I have visited all my settings. I tend to visit them first and then write the book. Occasionally there is a place within the setting I didn´t get to but want to include, so I do research, like the catacombs under St. Stephan´s Cathedral in Vienna. Perhaps next time I visit there, I´ll check them out.

  1. I loved seeing the settings for Emily, Thad and other characters in the trilogy. When I reread Blood Moon before Ebb Tide is released, I will have some visuals. Looks like you had a fabulous and relaxing time! You look so happy! Great photos! Will bookmark this so I can review the photos again. Next book setting? Depends on what your story is about. A lot of history in all of the countries — I am partial to Scotland and South Africa. So many places to visit, that I won’t except through books and movies. Lovely post!

    1. Here’s another link you may want to browse, Patricia. I use Pinterest as my corkboard for all the images I find during my research, along with a blurb to help me remember what it is and the links to any websites I found especially useful. It’s a great tool. I have all the boards set to public so my readers can see them, too. I started using Pinterest this way about halfway through Ella Wood (book 1), so older books you see on there don’t have near as much content. But the boards to Ella Wood, Blood Moon, and Ebb Tide are all accessible through this link. The blurbs below the images may contain a few teasers, but I try to avoid any spoilers. https://www.pinterest.com/isenhoff/

  2. Fantastic! So glad you got to do this. The pairings of photos and book references are pushing me to hurry up and read your series, which is on my reading list.

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