Foster Sanders bought his first home in this area in 1980 in Fort Walton Beach. He came over often from Baton Rouge to visit and through the years he has sold and bought other properties and lived in different communities up and down this stretch of coast.
"I've been around a long time," said Sanders. "Even when I lived in Fort Walton, I used to drive over to Grayton to go to the beach."
These days, Foster has settled in Miramar Beach, close to both South Walton and Destin, and has made this his full-time home since 1997, where he says he "dabbles in various projects."
Since retiring from practicing law, one of the projects Sanders has found time for is completing his 10-year project of writing a romance novel. He titled it "Almost to Destin."
Foster said it was always one of his dreams to be a writer, but that was something he never had time to do.
"I was always attracted to the art of writing and the fulfillment it gives, but I didn't have the time until I moved here," he said.
Since Foster has also always been attracted to this area, this was the locale he chose for his main character to be based in the novel. He set his heroine down in the fictional place Ebenezer Forest, a place he says is similar to the Choctawhatchee River Basin.
"The river bottom eco system is dear to me. It reminds me of a place in Louisiana that I loved," he said.
The heroine is based on someone Foster loves and admires — his sister, Leila Jane.
"I love my sister and I love this character. I wanted to honor her. She has lived a quiet and wonderful life but never got a lot of attention," he said. "She has read the book and is pleased, although she did not want the attention. She enjoyed it."
In the book, Foster gives his sister something other than a quiet life ... rather one of romance, suspense and intrigue.
In the book, Leila Jane sets aside a large part of land to preserve. A man comes down from Atlanta and sees the property, meets Leila Jane, and their lives change forever, said Foster.
"I have always liked intrigue," said Foster. "I used to pass a little sign on the highway that pointed to a church and I always wondered what was down that road."
Foster mentions several South Waltoners in the book as well as places on 30A. One of the scenes is set in Harriet Crommelin's Cafe Thirty-A.
"It involves the whole coastal area," he said.
This is Foster's first novel. He set it up so that a sequel is possible, but said he will see how he feels about it in the spring.
"Almost to Destin" is available at amazon.com and can be ordered through B&N. It is also offered on his personal websites: almosttodestin.com and fostersanders.com.