Thursday, July 25, 2013

Question of the Month: The Travel Edition

As romance writers stagger back to their homes and routines following the RWA National Conference, we asked them this question: what is the most challenging or inspiring trip you've ever taken?

Jennifer Lohman: When I lived in China, I took a trip to Tibet with some friends. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to use that information in a book, but it was inspiring. If someone is looking for a great book about Tibet (not a romance) the mystery novel The Skull Mantra by Eliot Pattison was fantastic. And, if you like it, it's the first in a long series.

Mary the dogsledder!
Mary Sullivan: Shortly after my ex-husband and I separated, a shock I wasn't expecting, I decided to take an Outward Bound course dogsledding in Algonquin Park in northern Ontario. I was in my mid-50s. The trip challenged me physically and emotionally, but it was one of the best things I've ever done. I'm not an athlete, but managed to survive and, in fact, found healing in the stunning landscape and with the amazing dogs.

Pamela Hearon: My husband and I were vacationing in England, and I dragged him from Arthurian site to Authurian site. At some, we were the only people there. Lots of people. A story started to come together in my mind. When we got home, that story became my first novel--The Timestone Key!

Cathryn Parry:  This year, my husband and I traveled to Scotland, rented a car, and toured the Highlands. This has been a goal of mine since the third grade--and it was wonderful. I just wish my grandmother was still here so I could talk to her about it. She provided the sword and the inspiration for my childhood Highland dance lessons.

Vicki Essex:  I went on a lovely 4-day vacation to Quebec City with my husband some years ago. I got so many ideas just studying the architecture and layout of the walled city, I wish I'd remembered to write that trip off!

Joan Kilby:The most inspiring *and* the most challenging trip I ever went on was trekking in the Himalayas. We started just outside Katmandu and walked to the Everest base camp. We trekked for four weeks, up and down soaring snow-capped mountains, through rhododendron forests, past terraced rice paddies, medieval villages and buddhist stupas fluttering with prayer flags beneath the bluest, most crystal clear sky I have ever seen. The trek was really hard at first, and also at the end when the air was so thin it was hard to breathe but by the end I was the fittest I've ever been in my life. The friendliness, generosity and physical toughness of the Nepalese people despite their poverty was inspiring and the beauty of the landscape was out of this world. It was an unexpectedly spiritual journey and afterward I felt changed inside, like a new person. I will never forget it. 

Jeannie Watt: My family, including my (feisty) parents who are in their seventies and my brother and his family, hiked from the top of the Grand Canyon down to Supai Village the day after Christmas a few years ago. It was a fascinating experience, especially for a geologist. My mom led the way as we hiked back out a few days later. Since we are rarely able to get everyone together for a holiday, it was one of the best Christmas vacations ever. I'd love to go back.

Kris Fletcher:  The two trips we did for our international adoptions were each memorable in
The Astrakhan Kremlin
their own way. The first, to China, was fascinating because it was the most "foreign" experience I have ever had. Absolutely everything was different. We were able to take our boys with us and we all agreed that it was the closest we would ever come to traveling to another planet. The second adoption involved three trips to Russia. The third one required me to stay there by myself for two weeks. (Well, I had our new daughter with me, but she wasn't much help :-) I am not the most confidant traveler even when I speak the language, so this was indeed a challenge for me - but we all survived, and I have an abundance of memories of my time there to share with our daughter. 

Tara Taylor Quinn:  I went to Italy with a girl friend a few years ago.  We rented a car and I drove from Rome to Venice to Milan, down to Naples and then back up to Rome.  It was the most incredible ten days in so many ways.  We were car-jacked and I was calm and strong and gunned the motor and the guy fell out of the back of the car before he could get the door shut.  This was on a one lane mountain road that was nothing but curves above high cliffs.  It was a defining moment for me.  I had the chance to see myself in a real crisis.  To see my own strength.  Where before I might have cowered, or hid, I now draw on my strength instead.  And the wine… Mmmmm.  

Anna in an opal mine.
Anna Sugden: One of my favourite trips was when we went to Australia. I was able to tie in the RW Australia conference with sight-seeing and touring around, including a visit to the wildlife park owned by Steve Irwin – where I got to feed a roo and cuddle a koala. At the conference, I got to meet fabulous Supers author and all-around fab person, Sarah Mayberry <g>. 

 The highlight for me was a visit to Coober Pedy – where they mine opals (my favourite gem) and where the temps in summer are so hot, they live underground! Our hotel room was underground – which doesn’t sound strange until you realize there is no window and it’s really dark when you turn the lights out! The trip to Coober Pedy also had special meaning as it was a Silhouette romance by Emilie Richards that got me into opals in the first place! And yes, I did buy at least one new opal ;). Funny how things go full circle. I’d love to set a book there one day – hmm wonder if I can wangle another trip … for research purposes, of course!

And now, readers, you tell us - what is the most challenging or inspiring trip YOU have ever taken?


Mary Preston said...

Loving all the stories. Food for thought & fodder for stories no doubt.

Laura Drake said...

A motorcycle trip from L.A. to New Orleans and back in 10 days. First day was LA to El Paso, and my butt hurt so much I stood up to eat dinner!

It was worth it though - that was my first trip to N.O. and it was JUST like I'd pictured from books . . . even the food!

kris said...

Mary, I think you're right about the story fodder!

Laura, welcome to Superland! That trip sounds exhausting and exciting and amazingly delicious.

Snookie said...

Love those stories. My DH and I drove from Portland, OR to Denali, Alaska. went east and then north along the Washington side of the Columbia river, up the east coast of British Columbia, through the Yukon and into Alaska, then came down the West side on the way back. We camped along the way and stayed in a motel to cleanup every few days. :)

Cathryn Parry said...

Love the stories! Thanks for posting, Kris!

kris said...

Snookie, oh WOW, what an adventure! How long did that take?

Cathryn, aren't they fascinating?

penney said...

That would be while we were all out camping in the desert the neices and I were climbing and I fell and crack my tail bone it wasn't funny then but now we all laugh!I miss going camping!

kris said...

A cracked TAILBONE? Ow ow ow, you poor thing!

Kristina Mathews said...

I went on a four day rafting trip in Oregon with my husband, his brothers and our families. I'd read all my books I'd packed for the trip on the ride up, so I had to buy a book by a very famous author that I'd never read before. I didn't like the fact that instead of a description of the book there was just a glamour shot of the author on the back cover. But she'd sold zillions of books and I liked the guy on the cover.

It was the book that made me finally take the step from thinking about writing a book and actually sitting down and doing it. There were so many times I wanted to throw the damn book in the river, but it was the only one I had. But I learned what NOT to do. I finished writing a book and researched the process of searching out publication. I joined RWA and read my first Harlequin Superromance. I've met so many wonderful writers along the way, both in person and online.

So, yeah, that one trip really changed my life.

kris said...

Kristina, I'd say we all owe that famous author a boatload of thanks.

Kaelee said...

I've traveled quite a bit. The trip that probably stands out the most was taking my parents and my husband's mom to Washington and Oregon. We went up the Space Needle, found the small town in Oregon my husband's grandmother had emigrated to way back when, walked on Canon beach and bought a vase we saw a glass blower make. I have a thing for vases. Ate wonderful salmon and other seafood and visited a winery. Just a great trip.

kris said...

Kaelee, oh, that sounds utterly delightful!

Fedora said...

I still love the trip I took with my parents to China nearly 20 years ago. It's such a big country, with so many beautiful places and fascinating people. I definitely plan to return, and will be hauling my kids with me ;) May they find it as horizon-expanding as I did!

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