Casa de Fruta and Other Magical Writing Experiences by Clifford Henderson (plus a free book)

Rest Home Runaways 300 DPIEveryone! Clifford Henderson, my buddy from waaaaaayyyyyy back, is here today! Let the celebration begin! Clifford is the award winning author of Middle of Somewhere, Spanking New, and Maya’s Request. She has a new release this week from Bold Strokes Books, Rest Home Runaways. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.

As further evidence of her massive awesomeness, Clifford is giving away a copy of Rest Home Runaways, over at her website! Click the link right there to get in on the goodness.

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Casa de Fruta and Other Magical Writing Experiences
by Clifford Henderson

Before I jump into the crux of this blog entry, I would like to encourage you to check out my new website. It will only take a moment for you, and it will mean the world to me. I’ve put tons of time into its creation, along with a couple of my uber-talented friends, and I’d hate for it to be all for naught. So check it out. It has excerpts from all my novels and some videos of me improvising and performing some sketch comedy pieces. Also, I have a book giveaway going on there too, so you can double your chances at winning a copy of “Rest Home Runaways.”

Now, on to those magical experiences.

As I approach the launch of my newest novel, “Rest Home Runaways,” I can’t stop thinking about two of the magical things that happened to me during the writing of it.

The first magical experience: I was pumping out a pivotal chapter at Staff of Life, a local health food store in my hometown, Santa Cruz, California. Staff of life features a lovely covered café and has a great salad and hot bar. (Think Whole Foods, but locally owned and much easier on the pocketbook.) The chapter I was writing takes place at the Northern Californian tourist trap called Casa de Fruta, a good 80 miles away. Located in the gorgeous Pacheco Valley between Monterey and Yosemite, it’s a fruit stand with ambition. Their website refers to it as a “Roadside Orchard Resort,” which is fitting. It’s grown from a modest fruit stand, established in 1908, to a compound of entertainment. There’s now a Casa de Wine, Casa de Diesel, Casa de Motel, Casa de Restaurant. They even have a playground for children with a baby train called Casa de ChooChoo.

IMG_1258Most people I know use it as a restroom stop.

Whether you like the place or not, Casa de Fruta was the perfect location forthe chapter I was working on, a chapter that, in many ways, serves as the fulcrum of the novel. Morgan and her girlfriend, Treat, meet up; The Runaway Grannies take on a hitchhiker; and Mac gets his second wind.

As I hunched over my laptop there at Staff of Life, I was aware of a group of developmentally disabled teenagers and their two chaperones at a nearby table. They were working on some kind of assignment, all of them diligently bent over their notebooks. Sporadically, one of themwouldpop out with some random statement to the group, like “Hamburgers with onions is my favorite” or “There were too many trees at Frederick Street Park.” After which there’d be a flurry of giggling and conversation until one of the chaperones urged them to get back to work. I was highly amused. That is until one of them popped out with “I love Casa de Fruta!”


After nearly choking on my chai, I checked to see if my laptop screen could possibly be visible to them. There was no way. Which meant the girl who said it had either plucked the idea from the thought cloud hovering around my head, or it was just one of those uncanny coincidences. Whatever it was, the experience gave me a boost. Like Joseph Campbell says: when synchronicities start showing up in your life, you know you’re on your path.

The second magical experience: I was riding my bike out by our local marine lab. I was on a grassy switchback with lots of little knolls that ultimately heads to the bay. Up ahead, I caught a glimpse of an elderly couple strolling on the path. I got off my bike as a courtesy. The path is narrow and the curve I was on blind. I didn’t want to scare them. But when I made the turn, not only weren’t they there, they had completely vanished. Only I knew I’d seen them. She was wearing a green sweater; he, a light blue bucket hat. Exactly like… Mac and Effie, two of the central character in “Rest Home Runaways.”

What does any of this mean? Who knows? But if you hazard a guess, even if it’s just “I dunno,”you could win a copy of “Rest Home Runaways.”

Casa de Fruta-1 copy


Baffled by reality, Clifford Henderson has fashioned a life where she can spend most of her time in make believe. Author of three award-winning novels, The Middle of Somewhere, Spanking New, and Maye’s Request, her fourth, Rest Home Runaways is now available for pre-order, and will be out August 19th. When not writing, Clifford and her partner of twenty years run the Fun Institute, a school of improv and solo performance where they teach the art of collective pretending.

Contact Clifford at






  1. i make it a practice not to try to define magic and the mystical too much…what it means or how it happens…after all…it’s magic!

    Just having those two experiences must have given a tremendous lift to your writing (not that it was in a slump and needed it, but you know what i mean!) Congratulations, i think it truly does show you are on your path!


  2. I’ve been there! Casa de Fruita but just to get some gas. Always wanted to check out the fruit area though. Rest Home Runaways sounds like a really fun concept.


  3. I have loved Casa de Fruta since it was just a few stands at the side of the Highway. I remember the Cup Flipper, and I tasted my first beefalo burger there. I still stop there everytime I head from Fresno to Morro Bay. Good times. I look forward to reading your book!


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