Tuesday, March 27, 2007
We start off with characters who are at one point in their lives and journey with them as they travel the hills and dales of their relationships, we’re on board for every trial and tribulation and have booked a ticket to share in the joys of their greatest triumphs.
And when the writer is rich on description then we come away with a whole album of photos of the journey we shared. I’ve never been to Hawaii or the mid-west of America or even to Australia, but I’ve read stories that transported me straight to Maui, or Denver or Sydney and it’s been a lot more pleasurable than a 20-hour flight in cattle class!
Thinking about this made me realise that perhaps I’m more of a travel agent than I ever imagined.
Without leaving the confines of Europe, I can count Turkey, Greece, Finland, Malta, France, Spain, Majorca, Germany and, of course Britain, amongst the settings for several of my books.
Now take Greece – that’s easily one of my favourite places on earth, so no surprise that Santorini and Crete are the main locations I use in Revenant, and in ‘Softly, Softly, Catchee Monkey’ in the Jaded Beasts V: Monkey & Rooster digest, the story was set deep in the heart of Athens.
When I first visited Santorini I fell in love with it so much that, when my boyfriend and I discovered we’d missed the last ferry of the week to Naxos, we didn’t care. We had a blissful extra few days on the island before we got a flight to Mykonos, another island I love and which makes an appearance in The Book of Lies & Falsehood.
Like Jack in Revenant, I’ve excavated in Crete. Unlike him, I’ve handled 4000-year old human bones, helped discover a sacrificial cave high on a clifftop with terrifying, vertigo-inducing drops to the sea, poked around Mochlos for obsidian and rung the church bell to fetch back the boat from the village across the water.
Athens is a mighty city that takes my breath away. In ‘Softly, Softly, Catchee Monkey’, Kon acts as a tour guide to get close to the heroine, Xinran. I wish when I’d gone the first time I had such a hunky guide! Instead, I had years of reading behind me. I knew that a place that had housed one of the greatest civilisations known to man was bound to house more than a few sparks of contemporary passion.
I’m blessed that one of my closest friends lives in Finland and extends an open door policy for whenever I want to visit. One year I was invited to share Christmas with her family at a log cabin in Lapland, where I got to see some of the beautiful traditional Sami costumes and buy my very own shaman drum. This led recently to my werewolf story ‘Naoi’de’. It was very easy writing a hero like Kari when I have such a thing for those beautiful slanted blue eyes of true Sami men…
These days, I can’t travel as far as widely as I used to – unfortunately real life stepped in – so for me, the next best thing is to write about the wonderful places I’ve visited in the hope that I can spark the travel bug in some of my readers.
I’d love to hear if you’ve ever based a story outside of your home country and if you wrote from imagination, or from your experiences overseas (or in the case of Canada, over the border!)
They say travel broadens the mind, and for me that’s true – but it also does a good job of broadening my inspiration.