Inspiration: Strange Things Are Afoot at the Fabric Store

I’m not going to lie. I’m a fan of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. After moving to California several years ago, the first time I passed the exit for San Dimas, I flipped. It was only an hour from where I lived. Granted, I knew nothing about the town, but I knew I’d have to go explore.

That exploration came a few years later when a close friend was in California visiting family. We decided to find a halfway point between us, and I suggested San Dimas. Turns out that’s where she grew up! It was a sign. Our plan: rendezvous in the Starbucks parking lot at the corner of San Dimas Avenue and Bonita Avenue. I hopped in my car and took off.

Around that same time, I was toying with the idea of a cozy mystery series that featured a fabric shop. I knew I wanted this series to be set somewhere in California, but not specifically Los Angeles or Hollywood. Creative impulses must have converged that day, because soon after getting out of the car and wandering down the street of San Dimas, I knew I’d found what would become San Ladrón, the town in the Material Witness Mystery Series.

Why is it San Ladrón instead of San Dimas? I wanted the leeway to create aspects of my town for the purposes of the book instead of staying true to an already existing place, and since we’re dealing with murder mysteries here, I didn’t want to risk having a crime take place at a real establishment. But that visit to San Dimas captured my heart, so I decided to use it as my template.

Some San Dimas/ San Ladrón trivia and comparison:

  • San Dimas was named after San Dismas, the penitent thief. In Spanish “Ladrón” means thief
  • San Dimas has a historical Victorian mansion, The Walker House. San Ladrón has a historical Victorian mansion, The Waverly House
  • San Dimas has a water park named Raging Waters. San Ladrón has a water park named Gnarly Waves
  • San Dimas has a string of antique shops on Bonita Avenue. San Ladrón has a string of antique shops on Bonita Avenue with a fabric store wedged in the middle
  • San Dimas has a Circle K. So does San Ladrón!

So there you have it. Inspiration: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Final Result: Suede to Rest!

I had great fun exploring the real San Dimas and even more fun tweaking it to become San Ladrón. I’d like to extend an open invitation to everybody to come visit.


Author: Diane Vallere

Diane is the author of four mystery series. Like her character Samantha Kidd, she is a former fashion buyer; like her character Madison Night, she loves Doris Day movies, like her character Polyester Monroe, she lives in California; and like her character Margo Tamblyn, she has a thing for costumes. Find out more at

7 thoughts on “Inspiration: Strange Things Are Afoot at the Fabric Store”

  1. Ha, Cynthia! A Wyld Stallyns riff! I can hear it in the background.

    Pamela, I do love going to San Dimas to wander around and soak up the atmosphere, though I now get confused when things I invented aren’t where they should be…


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