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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Sundries--Slambook Question: Favorite Travel Memory?

Please forgive me for not being diligent in keeping up this blog over the past week--I was on vacation with my husband to Fabulous Las Vegas! Not only did he play in a poker tournament while I traveled about doing research for the parts of my book set there, we went to celebrate early our 25th wedding anniversary.

Yeah, I'm about fifty pounds heavier than I was 25 years ago, but I'm working on it. I am wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins hat I got flying through that airport many years ago. I got it because I like penguins, but it's a humorous ice breaker because many people think I like hockey. You betcha I put that in my fiction.

This picture is in front of The Bellagio Hotel, where some scenes from one of my books takes place. A character, Mary Margaret, is a gardener and there is a wonderful area at the back of the hotel. This is a picture from our trip there in 2009:
This year, they had a butterfly house, along with the other amazing sculptures and flower beds:
I felt a shiver of delight go down my back. I knew my character, Mary Margaret, would have the same reaction. It is one of her favorite travel memories.

Another of her favorite memories is of the family trip to Gatlinburg, TN. I tell the story about how Mary Margaret got a hematite band at a gift store there that she lends to her sister to wear as a fake wedding band, "to keep losers away at the bar." It's a minor plot point, but I thought about how she would have stood in the gift shop, trying to figure out what to spend her money on, second guessing her decision a dozen times.

She would love the small gardens and planters all around Gatlinburg, as well as the rolling hills:
I didn't put any of that in the novels, but I asked her the favorite travel memory and that's what she told me. It gave me such a great back story, such insight into her. No one else needs to know, but I do.

Mary Margaret realized that she loves to travel--it was one of the most important things in her life. I send her to Japan in the second series of books. While I have never been to Japan, it's on my Bucket List. I've been lucky, because I've been able to travel quite a lot, first with my parents, then on my own and now with my husband.

I turned one of my favorite travel memories into a honeymoon story for Mary Margaret's sister, Elizabeth. Again, it won't necessarily appear in a book (though I might sell it on a website as a standalone), but it gives a lot of background for my characters. Elizabeth and Will go to Hawaii for their honeymoon. Will is a medically retired Marine and one morning, they go to Pearl Harbor. 

We were there on September 11, 2003 and it was truly one of the most moving moments I've had. I can only imagine someone with military combat experience seeing it for the first time.

So, what would be your favorite travel memory? Don't be afraid to ask your characters what their choices would be to gain insight to their reactions and actions.