In Ghosts of Bliss Bayou, Harmony Springs is a small town in Florida with an occult history dating back to the late 1800s. This idea was based on several places in Florida, which were actually founded as spiritual or Utopian communities— including Ruskin, Estero, and Cassadaga.
But the inspiration for how downtown Harmony Springs looks came from visiting another old Florida town, Micanopy. This post has some pictures taken in Micanopy, to give you the flavor.
Early in the book, Abby describes looking at the town on Google Earth.
…The historic downtown looks exactly the same, and it’s amazing—a few blocks of old shops and commercial buildings, the streets lined with huge, twisted oak trees draped in moss. And Victorian houses with wraparound porches and pointed turrets. The street-level pictures make me all warm and nostalgic. I feel this ridiculous yearning to be there.
In a later chapter, Abby is walking downtown on her first morning in Harmony Springs.
While yesterday was overcast and humid, today is hot and dry. Sunlight filters through the oak leaves and casts wavy shadows on the ancient, broken sidewalks. The buildings and overgrown yards all look like they haven’t changed in a hundred years—not since the time of Annie Renshaw. But the modern world is also right in my face: cars and pickup trucks driving by, advertisements in the shop windows for the theme parks in Orlando…
This, by the way, is the Herlong Mansion in Micanopy, now a bed and breakfast. Some sources claim it is haunted.
Late in the story, Abby and her friend Molly sneak into the town’s historic cemetery at midnight.
We cruise down a winding path of hard-packed sand and crushed dead leaves, past gravestones and monuments, some well-tended, some overgrown. Black branches reach over us like twisted fingers. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I can sense all the spirits sleeping around us.