The Woodlands

So a few years ago, during the economic down turn, there was an article in the New York Times about how these luxurious houses were being rented for pittances by college students.

Here in Merced, a city in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley and one of the country’s hardest hit by home foreclosures, the downturn in the real estate market has presented an unusual housing opportunity for thousands of college students. Facing a shortage of dorm space, they are moving into hundreds of luxurious homes in overbuilt planned communities.

Forget the off-to-college checklist of yesteryear (bedside lamp, laundry bag, under-the-bed storage trays). This is “Animal House” 2011.

Double-height Great Room? Check.

Five bedrooms? Check.

Chandeliers? Check.

Then there are the three-car garages, wall-to-wall carpeting, whirlpool baths, granite kitchen countertops, walk-in closets and inviting gas fireplaces.

Is this not a fantastic basis for a story? When I was inspired to write this series, I knew I had to use this. Bo and Noah come to live with Finn, Adam, and Mal in a house in a made up exclusive neighborhood called “The Woodlands”. (I had originally named it “Canyon Hills” but someone said it sounded to close to the show “The Hills”) The series was born. In Unspoken, one character stuck his head up and said, “write about me!” So Gray Phillips comes to visit his old Marine buddies Bo and Noah while trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life.

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