In the sudsy new thriller The Birthday Girl, novelist Melissa De La Cruz details what happens when the friends (and frenemies) of protagonist Ellie de Florent-Stinson gather in the desert for the fashion mogul’s October birthday weekend. De La Cruz recounts the real-life hot spots that inspired her to feature them in the novel.
Indian Canyons Golf Course
In my book, Ellie lives in the house we used to own across from the north golf course. When our daughter was in preschool, we would drive out to the desert on Thursday afternoons and have dinner at the restaurant every night. It was like stepping back into the 1950s. It’s closed now, but the south dining room is still open for breakfast, lunch, and brunch.
Ace Hotel & Swim Club
We chanced upon drag queen bingo here one Monday night. Shirley, the host, hands out cards to everyone. She sings and makes jokes, and a good time is had by all. The food at the King’s Highway restaurant is great, too. Ellie must, of course, host her after-party during drag queen bingo in my book. It’s a Palm Springs classic!
Las Casuelas Nuevas
There are Las Casuelas locations in downtown Palm Springs, but — like me — Ellie prefers the larger one in Rancho Mirage. The courtyard is festive, the margaritas huge, and the food bountiful. Every dinner there is an outdoor party; it puts you in a good mood.
Parker Palm Springs
Ellie puts her guests up at the Parker. It’s a hotel with a cheeky sense of humor and an international, beautiful crowd. The people watching is always fun. Before we bought our house, we’d hotel hop. Besides the Parker, we loved The Lodge at Rancho Mirage, now The Ritz-Carlton.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DENISE BOVEE
Author Melissa de la Cruz