by | May 3, 2020 | Lisa Black, On writing | 7 comments

by Lisa Black

          Admit it. We all have them.

Houses that exist only in our wildest dreams. Exotic mansions in Barbados. Cozy bungalows in Bar Harbor. Renovated lofts in Manhattan. The place we’ll live once we retire or win the lottery or dump the spouse or have an empty nest or fulfill our dream of starting a restaurant franchised in eight countries or hit the NYT Bestsellers list with a fully executed movie contract. Places we can escape to when we need a short mental vacation from real life. Places we can see ourselves, fulfilled, at peace, and truly happy.

It’s not important they be luxurious or famous. Maybe you watch HGTV 24/7 and want a four- bedroom century home you can renovate from attic to cellar. Maybe you want a boathouse in Key West that’s decorated with conch shells. Maybe your dream is a grass shack on a desert island. What’s important is that it’s you.

I have three. 

First is the castle on the seaside cliff. It’s not truly a castle, per se, just really big with high ceilings and a lot of marble. I’m not fussy about what sea it overlooks, either, as long as there’s crashing surf and winding stone steps down to the beach. My brain gets a little stuck after that, because I don’t want huge—it has to be manageable without a personal staff. Consequently I picture only the bedroom (don’t read anything into that), which faces the water with one wall completely open to a wide terrace of the type commonly seen in Disney movies. This open wall will, of course, have floor-to-ceiling sheer curtains that wave in the ocean breeze because apparently there are no bugs at my fantasy house. Or burglars.

I visit this house the least, actually.

The second is the cabin in West Virginia. It is high on a mountain and I have no idea where my nearest neighbor is, but I have good view of Hawk’s Nest State Park and the New River bridge. I have never been to the Hawk’s Nest State Park, but I have had a postcard of it pinned to my bulletin board for nearly thirty years, bought while driving through the state. My WV cabin is not huge (in all my houses, I live alone…let’s not read anything into that, either) but roomy, with a cavernous fireplace and of course a wide deck for watching the sun set over the trees. Or rise. I’m not sure in what direction the New River flows.

This is the real fantasy house, the one I really would get if I fulfilled all or most of the requirements in the first paragraph. Especially the lottery one.

The third is the ranch in Wyoming, in Absaroka County where Walt Longmire is the sheriff. This one was left to me by a long-lost uncle right as my husband walked out, so, sight unseen, I packed everything into a U-Haul and drove across seven states. It’s the smallest and simplest of the houses, one bedroom and a galley kitchen…I go back and forth on whether it has a basement. I’ve seen too many horror movies to think a lone woman in the middle of nowhere with a basement is a good idea. But I’ll need storage, so there will be a barn, a number of cats, and two German Shepherds. The place needs of a lot of work, since good old Uncle Whoever wasn’t much of a housekeeper, so that I spend the first year in total seclusion as I renovate. Then, just as the town is buzzing about the hermit lady, Walt will come by to ask my help with some fingerprints and I will finally grab a drink at the Red Pony and meet my soulmate and all-around cutie Henry Standing Bear.

The only flaw in this scenario is that, while I have a large family, I’m aware of all of my uncles and none live in Wyoming.

But a girl can dream, can’t she?

Come on, tell me—what’s your fantasy house?

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Karna Bodman

    Your discussion of dream houses is shared by many people, I'm sure — which is why HGTV is such a popular station — especially for shows like "My Lottery Dream Home," and when "House Hunters" films in the Caribbean or on a coast here or abroad. As I review your three dream properties, I think you should set one of your great thrillers in each location – then with vivid descriptions, we readers could all share your enthusiasm and wanderlust. Thanks for a great post.

  2. Gayle Lynds

    Love this, Lisa. It just be filed under Writers Dreamin'! I'd never thought to catalog my dream houses, and bad on me, because you're right … we all have them, and maybe writers and other artists do more than others. Every place I move, I develop a dream house for that area, some place where I have a view of the mountains and a place on the ocean where I can hear the waves crash with delightful neighbors in the distance but close enough I can bellow hello! every once in a while. So, like you, setting is important, probably more important than the house itself, although I've got to admit now that my daughter and her family escaped from Brooklyn in early March, I'm really grateful to have a big house where none of us feel cramped. Oh, and a view of Mt Washington doesn't hurt either. Miss those crashing waves, though! 🙂

  3. Sean Cameron

    For years it has been a massive log cabin in Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming, where I have to be a little cautious going out the back door in the morning so I don't surprise a large predator or a moose. That remains the standard but as I get older and less tolerant of winter I also want a quiet little beach home in a quiet little beach town, maybe on the outer banks of N.C. The new entrant into my dream home list is Ravello, Italy where my wife and I went this past August to celebrate our 25th Anniversary (which actually isn't until May 13th). That place is magical in every way. I don't think I could be a permanent expat, but I wouldn't mind spending the odd month there a couple times a year. Great piece, Lisa!

  4. Lisa Black

    Thanks!, The house in Italy sounds fabulous—and good thing you went last August!

  5. Chris Goff

    Ah, love this fantasizing. I dream of a beach house. I'm sort of stuck on Hawaii–either the Big Island of Hawaii or Kauai. I'm okay with neighbors, but I want a clear view of the ocean so I can sit on the lanai and watch sunset, marvel at the whales passing by in February and March. And I want a swim-able beach. I also wouldn't mind a small cottage in Cornwall, UK, in a little down like the one where Doc Martin lives. I spent a few days in Porthleven with my dad and marveled at the palm trees, even though it's not really tropical there.

  6. Lisa Black

    There's palm trees in Cornwall?? Amazing!

  7. Cap'n Bob

    I don't want steep land so something on the plains. A stone structure with at least one turret and an elevator because of my distaste for climbing. I'd like a cook and a couple of maids, young and wearing French maid outfits. I'd want horses, German shepherd dogs, and Maine coon cats.

    Lisa, don't get a U-Haul. Their trucks are poorly maintained.