I've said before that I write to travel. Every penny I earn from royalties or selling at events goes into a fund for my next adventure. If I have a good year, I go farther. If not, I stay close to home. I'm sure not getting rich as a writer, but I am feeding my soul. I accumulated enough funds for a week long trip to Spain, reported I fear, ad nauseam, on Facebook. Although I went on and on about octopus tapas, great museums, gypsy beggars, and pickpockets, I didn't deal with what travel means to a writer--inspiration of course.
This doesn't mean my next book will take place in Spain. Who knows? That gypsy beggar who hounded me for a block as she moaned about her children starving and needing milk might appear in another book in a totally different role. Understanding just enough Spanish to get what she said and not believing a word of it, I finally gave her a euro from my little coin purse to be rid of her. I did not flaunt my cash or its location for the very skillful pickpockets of Barcelona for whom she might have been shilling. Yes, one of our company was robbed and never felt a thing, not a single bump, another incident that could be used in any big city. That said, Barcelona is a city of great beauty, a worthy setting for any romance, from its lovely street tiles and lampposts along the Diagonal to the crooked, skinny lanes in the Old City that take one back to Medieval times, minus the stench and far worse beggars than that gypsy woman.
Madrid was not so beautiful, another big, noisy city that doesn't shut down until three a.m. though they have preserved their neoclassical buildings along the Gran Via and have many nice squares full of, I swear, the same gypsy women beggars. It also has an extensive Old City where we ventured for a lecture on Flamenco at a club dedicated to that dance, had tapas and red wine, then a performance by three female and one male dancer (muy macho). I liked that one of the women was older and still had lots of fire. The dance is never the same twice as the dancer interprets a story being sung and accompanied by guitar. The rest of the company supplies a rhythmic clapping, the men a steady beat, the women faster and more complicated. The fellow sitting next to me whispered that a novel about a flamenco troupe would make a great book. It would! But, I'd have to be a lot more knowledgeable before I took that on.
More likely, people I meet will show up in a book like the ninety-two year old WWII nurse who kept up with us just fine or the plumber who for some reason never got the meal he ordered. They can be inserted anywhere, in any story. I collect characters like I do plots I gather from overhearing conversations. Yes, the threat that you might show up in one of my novels is real, but you probably won't recognize your fictionalized self. At least, I hope not! Anyhow, I always announce at the introductions that I write romance novels, so they have been warned.
Just a caution--you cannot write off your travels as research trips on your taxes unless you are a real travel writer who is not being reimbursed. Wouldn't it be divine if you could? On my list--Australia and Italy, Scotland and Iceland. I'd better get busy writing and rebuilding my modest travel fund. Too bad Ashy Affair got off to such a bad start with the defective e-books. I hoped it would be a nice moneymaker like its companion, Trashy Affair, which got me to Alaska. Actually, a trip to Spain costs less than Alaska as did my stay in Costa Rica. This coming year, I might have to drive somewhere.