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Former resident utilizes Dana Point, Orange County as backdrop to mystery series

By Sean Robb

Many people associate Dana Point with being one of the top beach cities in the country. Maria Grazia Swan sees the city as the perfect setting for a murder mystery.

Swan is an award winning, national best-selling author who has written numerous murder mysteries and novels that take place here in Orange County.

Maria Garzia Swan. Courtesy photo
Maria Garzia Swan. Courtesy photo

Her new book, Murder Under the Italian Moon, the first novel of the Lella York series, describes the life of a Dana Point housewife who suddenly becomes engulfed in a mystery of murder and romance.

Murder Under the Italian Moon was actually inspired by a true story that took place in Dana Point, but I switched up the roles of the characters a little bit,” Grazia Swan said.

The novel recently won a HOLT Medallion award of merit in the category for novels with strong romantic elements.

The idea to use Orange County as a setting came to Grazia Swan when she was writing her first novel during a creative writing class at Saddleback Community College. Since then, she has used different locations through the county such as the Dana Point Harbor, Balboa Island and different restaurants in, and around Dana Point.

“There is really nothing like Orange County,” Grazia Swan said. “I’ve had reviews from fans and other authors complementing me on the vivid details I had of Dana Point.”

A second novel in this series, Death Under the Venice Moon, will be released on July 28. To find more information about Maria Grazia Swan be sure to check out

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