La Jolla poet pens her first novel at age 93

By Ashley Mackin

“You never know who you are living next door to, if you live in La Jolla,” said La Jolla resident and lifelong poet Doris Sutton. This notion, and a few others, inspired her first novel, “Romantic Tales from Old Mulvedania: Secret Stories of Royalty Never Meant to be Told.”

Sutton, 93, held a book signing for the work on Oct. 20 at Warwick’s. She said she became fascinated with the idea of royalty after reading stories about deceased La Jolla resident, Alfonso de Bourbon, who claimed to be a descendent of Spanish royalty.

“Nobody wanted him not to be royalty,” she said. “It got me thinking about who is living next door to you in this city.”

That’s when she began creating characters.

“I seem to write about people and they (in turn) write the story,” Sutton explained.

Her “Romantic Tales” opens with journalist Margot Mara assigned to find the Crown Princess Victoria of Mulvedania, who was thought to be living in La Jolla at the time — her royal status unknown to most.

Through the young reporter, the story of Victoria and Prince Charles of Mulvedania is told, including their travels throughout Europe and the United States, before settling in La Jolla. The romantic adventures around the world and surprising family secrets fill the pages.

To avoid any legal issues, Sutton used her own family’s photos to illustrate the characters instead of buying images. Photos of Sutton and her husband, Paul, as Victoria and Charles, are on the cover. She uses her daughter Pamela’s likeness for Margot Mara.

Sutton’s other daughter, Valerie, proudly declared that her likeness is the basis for two characters.

As an additional precaution, Sutton invented the country of Mulvedania, and the language spoken there. She said has to muffle her laughter when people tell her they have visited Mulvedania.

Sutton said writing the novel was a way for her to pass the time after suffering a stroke in 2011, which left her with limited walking ability. Calling on the typing services of her caregivers, Sutton was able to come up with, and dictate, the novel while on bed rest.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “I’m never bored.”

Now that “Romantic Tales from Mulvedania” is done, Sutton is already halfway through writing her next book, which will be about French aristocracy in today’s world.

“France is overrun by titled people. It doesn’t mean they are rich or famous, but they still have their titles,” she said.

Of her continued creative streak, Sutton reasoned, “When I was growing up, there were so darn many rules about writing a novel. When I had my stroke, I said phooey on them, I’m just going to write it.”

— The novel, as well as Sutton’s books of poetry, are available at