Herald Masthead

Monterey, California     December 19, 2022

Local author returns to Peninsula to debut a book
inspired by Carmel characters

By LISA CRAWFORD WATSON  |  newsroom@montereyherald.com
PUBLISHED: December 18, 2022

The Gordons

Legendary Carmel characters Dene Denny and Hazel Watrous could never have founded the Carmel Bach Festival, could never have created the first art gallery in Carmel, could never have established Carmel Music Society, would never have designed and built 36 houses by the sea, had they not had “that thing,” that undeniable commitment to creativity and to Carmel.

In 2014, David Gordon researched, wrote, and published Carmel Impresarios, a cultural biography of Denny and Watrous, through which he became intimately acquainted with the pair, as if they’d met, spent time, felt themselves friends.

Two years later, Gordon and his wife, author Ginna B.B. Gordon, were enjoying a conversation in which they were pondering, as they had so many times before, the daily lives of Denny and Watrous, in their work, their play, their passion for the arts and, perhaps, each other.

Their musings led to the premise of a book, not about Denny and Watrous — that’s been done — but about two male characters, inextricably linked, who create their own performing arts festival, elsewhere. Their names, Hayne and Diesel, are a subtle nod to Denny and Watrous, as is their story. But it’s all just a springboard for the story that unfolds.

The resulting book, published in 2022, is Bear Me Away to a Better World, subtitled The tale of a duo, the power of music, and a chandelier.

The story is set at the imaginary Villa Zanetta estate in the Sonoma Valley, more specifically, its theaters. The protagonists, theater founders Robert DeWayne “Diesel” Edwards and Hayne Endicott Williams, are nearly as legendary but not nearly as real as Hazel Watrous and Dene Denny. In fact, they are the result of additional creative and collaborative conversations between the Gordons.

To seduce the reader from the start, the gentlemen’s attraction is revealed in the prologue and, before chapter one can come to a close, someone has died in the theater. That’s where the chandelier comes in. Some suggest it’s a murder. But not right away.

The cover of the book reveals it was written by Ginna Gordon, “with David Gordon.” She likely would not have done it without him, without her husband’s encouragement, editing and endearment — and she wouldn’t have wanted to.

“David and I started talking about this book in 2016,” said Gordon “and a six-year conversation ensued. We didn’t want to write another book about Dene and Hazel, but perhaps about two others in the performing arts world, engaged in an alternative relationship to what was considered the norm.”


Hayne Williams and Diesel Edwards met in 1955, devised Gordon, and created a lifelong bond while developing the Villa Zanetta performing arts center where all the drama took place. The storyline threading through “Bear Me Away” moves from their meeting through their artistic creations, and their ensuing love story, with plenty of drama woven in. Starting with the “Phantom-esque” chandelier incident.

Source of Inspiration

It only makes sense that the inspiration for the title of Gordon’s book came from a poem, “An die Musik,” (To Music), written by Franz von Schober and set to music by Franz Schubert in 1817. Let’s not forget that David Gordon served a dynamic 30-year tenure as a vocal soloist, director of the Virginia Best Adams Masterclass, and dramaturge for the Carmel Bach Festival, for which Ginna Gordon spent seven years serving as event planner.

Once she understood how the power of music had become a theme throughout the book, Ginna Gordon realized a line from von Schober’s poem must become the title. Music, she said, contributes to the healing of much of the turmoil that takes place in the story.

“I once read a line that writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” she said. “Maybe, but I really was writing about music. I played Schubert’s song over and over, and also ‘Ave Verum Corpus,’ one of the most uplifting pieces of music Mozart ever wrote, to immerse myself in the power of the experience while I was writing.”

Although she does not call herself a musician, Gordon lives immersed in it. And, because she is a writer and a visual artist, she was able to slip into the mood of the music, so she could ease the tension in the story.

Ginna Gordon might have imagined it but never thought she’d actually write a book with her husband’s input and influence. He writes non-fiction, while she writes fiction, children’s books and cookbooks. Her concern was where their creative sensibilities would meet. So they talked, they told stories, they took notes. They wrote character studies to get acquainted, particularly with Diesel and Hayne, to whom she assigned a number from the Enneagram scale to track their personalities. And then, she wrote.

“David looked at a passage and said, ‘This part is great; when did you write it?’ To which I said, ‘I didn’t; you wrote that.’ It was the only part of the book he actually wrote,” she said, “but it was great. After that, he said, ‘Go finish it.’ David waited to read the book until it was finished. He wanted to get lost in the story instead of its development. I appreciate both.”

David Gordon has an eye for outcome. A master typographer, he lays out books that look and read like works of art, through the Gordons’ pre-press and indie and publishing company, Lucky Valley Press, which takes on authors who believe they are ready to publish.

Although the Gordons departed the Monterey Peninsula eight years ago and moved to Oregon, they are moving back to the Peninsula this month, confirming that you can come home again.

Bear Me Away to a Better World, says Gordon, is available worldwide “wherever good books are sold.”

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