Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Common Themes In My Writing: Travel

I thank my family for my love (obsession?) with traveling. By the time I was eighteen, I'd lived in six different cities and eight different houses. I had my first road trip with my grandparents when I was eleven. We traveled from Colorado to Texas to Oklahoma to Missouri to South Carolina to Virginia (and we visited Washington D.C. and Baltimore while we were there) and back. Plus, my parents were awesome enough to take us on all kinds of road trips: to Washington, to Disneyland, to Yellowstone, and all kinds of places in between.

I went to different youth retreats in Southern California and Seattle. I visited Zambia and South Africa the summer after I graduated. Since I turned eighteen, I've visited the Marshall Islands, France, Spain, Italy (yes, that is a picture of me at the Trevi Fountain in Rome!), and Switzerland and I've moved around quite a bit. I love traveling. I love seeing new places. I would visit every single country on this planet if I had the money.

This ambulatory lifestyle tends to show in my fiction. Sometimes it's just a side effect of the plot; sometimes it is the reason for the plot.

Some examples. . .

Finding Fiona:
When Fiona meets someone who claims to be from her past, she finds out she's hours away from where she's going to find answers. She travels from Boston to New York City to visit her childhood home and eventually confront the men who were responsible for her parents' death.

Funny story: I've never been to Boston or New York City, so I did as much research as I could to bring these places to life. Looking at pictures, reading travel blogs, talking to my brother who lives in Brooklyn.

Magnitude (coming soon in a new short story collection): Laura and Jessica's dad always talked about taking the girls to the Grand Canyon, but he didn't have the chance before he died, so the girls decide to go in his memory.

I visited the Grand Canyon with my family when I was in my early teens. I don't remember the specific reason for the road trip or exactly how old I was, but I could never forget that place. Absolutely amazing!

Death of the Sun: Sadie is leaving her hometown for college, but a meeting with her friend upheaves her plans to leave her past behind. This hometown was definitely Pendleton, Oregon. I had a very specific spot in mind when Sadie and Brandon meet in the beginning. I imagine Sadie was going off to college in Portland, but I didn't specify. It could have been Salem, Corvallis, Eugene. The point was it was a new life, one completely different than the one she was leaving behind.

Promising Light (coming this winter): Most epic fantasy has some kind of travel, and this book is no exception. During Grace's trip with the prince, she's kidnapped by mysterious gypsies who tell her she can break the curse on their family. She faces tumultuous decisions that send her to new, dangerous lands she and her friends barely survive.

Some of the places in Promising Light were inspired by real life places I've been. Nyad and Mumbar Jungle are inspired by Hawaii, giving it a tropical climate. Jolen, which we see in the sequel, is a seafaring, Mediterranean-like country. I was definitely thinking of Italy when I wrote about Jolen. When I get closer to publishing Promising Light, I will probably write up a new post about the places in the world and how fun it was to create them. Then you'll know what the heck I'm talking about.

There are others, but most of them are stories that will never see the light of day or won't for a long time, and I don't want to bore anybody. Just know that I have so many more stories that involve traveling--quests to Rome and Switzerland, exploration of the Bermuda Triangle, impromptu trips to Hawaii. I really love going to new places, and I tend to force that wanderlust into my characters' lives.

You just might be seeing some travel writing soon. Nonfiction! The kind that really happened! In the meantime, enjoy some fiction characters running all over the place with Finding Fiona and Death of the Sun.


  1. I'm sure that traveling inspires you to write more stories by bringing new ideas to your mind. You are very lucky! Traveling is an enriching experience.

  2. I have not traveled as much as you, but I have lived and worked in three different countries.