For several years now, I’ve written stories where the setting is about as far from my small town in California as one could get. I published Gone Tropical, set in the Australian rainforest, Corsica Gate, set in Italy and on the island of Corsica. Ring Me Later was set in Los Angeles but with strong ties to London, and Bachelor Island my new release (February 12, 2016) is set on the island of Kauai.
Why do I do this? I’m not certain, but I think there is a strong part of me that has always loved travel. If I can’t go, it does not stop the hunger. In recent years, possibly due to getting older and not having a travel companion, I’ve tended to stay at home. When I was younger I wouldn’t hesitate to travel alone, and often did. The world, unfortunately, has become a little scarier in recent years and it seems every time I think of heading off somewhere there is an uprising of violence and destruction.
One of my favorite things about travel was not so much seeing new or famous sites— I could always get those from a travel magazine, or by watching a travel show on TV— but it was about being a part of a different culture. I always enjoyed the little things about people that made them different and therefore more interesting. The scent of a place would stay with me for the longest time afterward. Whether that was from flowers or trees, or food being prepared, that scent would evoke memories for years to come. Even the way a city smells after a downpour of rain, or on a hot and steamy day, is something that lingers. And accents…I adore the different accents of the ordinary people, the taxi drivers, the pub owners, the shop owners, the people on the land.
When it comes to writing my stories, I immerse myself in research. The Internet becomes my best friend, and it’s amazing what I can learn from the comfort of home. I frequent the Barnes and Noble travel section, buy copious magazines that depict the area, and draw on memories from past visits. Every story excites me and stirs my blood. I imagine and often plan the trip I’ll take so that I can do firsthand research. I never make the trip. The story is written, edited, re-edited, and published, and my mind is already off on a new adventure…a new book to be written. And so it goes. Right now I’m as steeped in British history as an Earl Grey tea bag in a cup of hot water. The story I’m halfway through writing, One Safe Place, is set in the English countryside.