I don't really need to travel to find inspiration for my books. After all, I'm the person who wrote a novel about my garbage collection problems in A Trashy Affair which turned out to be one of my best efforts.. The truth is I write in order to travel. My royalties pay for one nice trip a year with my husband, not exactly Nora Robert's riches, but good enough for me. When I travel, I take along promotional cards for my books and hand them around. When I return I always find a few curiosity sales from my fellow travelers, so don't leave home without some PR product to do a little shameless self-promotion. Just saying.
Those I meet on trips always want information on publishing and also ask if they will appear in any of my books. I am quick to say none of my characters are real people unless they are historical figures, but I certainly do save up characteristics to use in my creations like the woman who kept disappearing from tours in order to have a smoke and a large coffee or the still spry World War Two nurse who had tales to tell. Recently, I returned from this year's big trip to Ireland, plenty of inspiration in that country with all its history and woes and lovely landscapes. I was asked if I would write about that country in my next book. Well, no. It might take me years to percolate the information, come up with a plot, and then find the time to write the story. I have a list of five books to write in my head already, and Ireland will have to wait its turn.
It took me over two years to get around to writing A Place Apart based on a trip to Maine. I finished the first draft of this 100,000 word novel before I left for Ireland and now must get back in the groove and polish it. Though you can find anything on the internet, visiting a place does enable you to add bits of local color you might otherwise overlook and catch the way people in that area have of talking. For instance, I noticed an incredible number of quilting and knitting shops in Maine, a good way to pass a long, cold winter is my guess. The fifth season in Maine is called mud season when the thaw occurs. And lets not forget the small but tasty Maine shrimp, tiny cousin to its marvelous lobsters, and the schooner ride on Penobscot Bay which features prominently in the new book.
I do wish I could have gone to American Samoa to research Paradise for a Sinner first hand. They don't have much of a tourist industry there, and the plane fare was huge. Think I could have written the trip off on my taxes since a book resulted? An accountant warned me not to do that as a big ticket item is sure to get IRS attention. So, I contented myself with Samoan blogs and travel info to capture the flavor of that country.
As for Ireland, while waking early in adjusting to the substantial time change again, I began to form a plot in my head. The two main characters took shape as did the town where they live. I'd weave in a little mythology inspired by ancient tales and a trip to the New Grange barrow graves (very narrow and low passage-hit my head twice and I am short). Irish music must figure in somewhere. Then,. the alarm went off and I had to get up for real and start the day. File this story as number six in the line of tales I have to tell. Travel truly does inspire, and I will write to get more of it.