Saturday, 12 September 2009

Traveling with LK Hunsaker


I love to travel. Thank you to Lindsay for allowing me to kick off the Travel special where you’ll hear from several romance authors about different modes and concepts of travel. From me, you get reality.

This is a photo I took from the window of an airplane on the way to visit a friend in Michigan. I’m also a photo bug so the amount of travel photos I’ve collected over the years of living in six states and two countries, plus the many, many trips we’ve taken in and around and between could fill tons of books by themselves. I won’t bore you with all the details and will keep the photos here limited. Maybe I’ll collect them into books some day.

Until then, what I do with many of my travelogues is include them within my stories. All of my books include real places along with some occasional unreal places based somewhat on real towns. My hometown served as one backdrop for Finishing Touches, the place Jenna is raised. I don’t name it. I do grab descriptions from it. The places that are BridgeOverILRiver-Hawkins named and highlighted in the novel are Peoria and Chicago. The setting moves back and forth, with each city being a character in itself that shows Jenna’s state of mind wavering. Peoria is safe for her. It’s her adopted city and she knows it well but it limits her because of her history there. Chicago is the mostly unknown exciting and frightening pull that metaphors her wish to expand herself, to move forward.

I know Peoria well. It’s the closest real city to my own hometown and was where we found the mall and splurged with an occasional fast food trip. I should say I know the main streets of Peoria well, the connecting roads that took me where I needed to be. I stayed on those main roads, afraid of getting lost. Yes, I do get lost easily. I may love to travel, but I have no sense of direction. *sigh* My visits to Chicago, on the other hand, were brief and few but fully exciting. I was enamored with LakeChicagoRiver-Maxwell Shore Drive and the vibrant life of the city. I adored walking the Loop and visiting the Art Institute. The Loop is mentioned within Finishing Touches. The Art Institute and my favorite painting there are in Rehearsal, somewhat bonding the books although they are separate stories.

Chicago does play a small role in the Rehearsal series, especially the Sears Tower (never mind they renamed it now). Its main setting is a small city about thirty miles west of Boston. Why? I used to live about thirty miles west of Boston and I adore Massachusetts. The fictional town of Lakewood doesn’t resemble where I lived. Being that we were on a military base, it wouldn’t work for the story. However, Boston is there, as is Concord and Salem. Since the series deals with a touring band, I’m able to throw in a lot of places we’ve lived and visited with small glimpses. One highlight is River Street in Savannah, Georgia. I BostonSkyline-LKHunsaker also lived about 35 miles outside Savannah at one point. Yeah, I’ve been around. ;-)  Raucous, my fictional band, spends one Halloween on tour walking River Street. I had fun with that. They’ve also been to Branson, Missouri, where we did a family vacation a few years back, and if you find any other place highlighted there, it’s a good chance there’s a personal connection.

Two of the main characters of Rehearsal were raised in eastern Pennsylvania and one went to college in western Pennsylvania, which happens to be where we live now. The funny story with that is I decided to make Theil College Evan’s alma mater long before we ever decided GreenvillePA-LKHunsakerto  move close enough to it to drive up and get photos.

So, on to the next-to-come. In 2002, we were able to make a quick visit to New York City. That’s the adopted city for Ryan, my hero (or anti-hero) of Off The Moon, due out this November. One of the places we went to listen to a musician friend perform is in the story, as is the general atmosphere of walking the sidewalks of Manhattan at night. The other main setting is Bennington, Vermont, and a small confession: I haven’t been there. Yet. That’s my next vacation goal. Why is it set there, then? I needed a scenic area with a big lake that was close enough to NYC for quite a few car trips back and forth and yet far enough to be a wholly different environment. Online research is great, but I’m anxious to get there and take photos.

I have albums set up on my website to show scenery from each of my novels. They are still in progress and more will be added, but there are enough to give you a feel of where my stories take place.

Today I was scanning in old photos from Idaho. I’ll have to set a book there soon.

Thank you for taking this short journey with me. I look forward to the rest of the travel series here!


Lindsay Townsend said...

Thank you for starting off our travel week in such amazing style, LK! I find it fascinating, and how you integrate your characters' life travel with the story arc and also with your own real-life travel.

Love the pics, too! Tahnk you!

Rebecca J Vickery said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi LK and Lindsay,
I love the travel blogging. I really enjoy hearing about other cities and towns and why they've been included in books and stories.
The photos are beautiful, LK. I envy you your travels.
I"m also looking forward to the rest of the week.

Keena Kincaid said...

Love the travel blog, and don't worry about calling it the Sears Tower here in Chicago. Even the newsmen and women still call it the Sears Tower. ;-)

Celia Yeary said...

LORAINE--"Will it play in Peoria?" That's all I know about the city, and I've not visited Chicago. It's on our list, though.
I like to use real places or areas, too.I learned to be careful with it, though, because readers will pick up on it, and say "I know exactly where that is" when in fact, I used something fictional in that real town.
Travelogues? Lord, I have stacks of albums full of snapshots from all over Europe, Scandinavia, A little of Russia, a huge amount from the interior of Mexico, Canada from one side to the other, and the US.In each album, I wrote dialogue or something silly to identify the shot. Maybe that was my early writing. Celia

LK Hunsaker said...

Lindsay, thank you. This pushed me to finally scan a bunch of old travel photos. Plenty more to go, but at least it was a kick start. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Thanks Rebecca. I should say two of them were taken by family members who answered the call when I said I need Peoria and Chicago photos! If you hover the mouse over each one, they're marked.

Keena, good to know. It bugged me when I heard they changed the name. To me it will always be the Sears Tower. ;-)

LK Hunsaker said...

Celia, yes most often I put the biggest setting in a fictional place within a realistic setting so I have free reign to make the town what I need it to be. However, it IS fiction so we have that leeway to an extent. ;-)

I wish I could come sit with you and look through your travelogues!

Paul Mathew Bucalo said...

Funny, how it never occurred to me to include real places I have been to in my writing. This may be due to the fact I write mostly Sci-Fi and Fantasy. :) Still, your points are good and I can see, through your experiences, how this would benefit any writer attempting to build believable surroundings into their work. Even one's imagination needs solid footing to build from.

This is well written, both interesting and informative. Thanks, Loraine!

LK Hunsaker said...

Thank you, Paul. I think sci fi/ fantasy mix well with real places. :-)

Mona Risk said...

You'd think traveling is what I do best after touring more than 50 countries and snaping pictures wherever I go. I often went to France, Greece, Egypt, Mexico and Canada. In Europe I toured Spain and Portugal by bus, and later Scandinavia by bus and ferry, and Switzerland by train. I visited England, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Germany, the former Tchechoslovakia and Yougoslavia. I worked in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, accompanied my husband on business trips to Tunisia, Algeria, Kenia, Mauritius, Seychelles... Cruised through the Carribeans, Chili, Argentina, Urugway,... Visited China, Hong-Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Taywan... Stayed several months in Lebanon and Syria. I set stories in Belarus, France, Greece, Egypt... At home, it would be easier to say there are only ten states I havent visited on business or vacation. We just came back from Australia where we have relatives... Believe I would love staying home but I am dying to visit Ireland, Brazil, Morroco and Hongaria.

Jane Beckenham said...

Traveling is one of my favorite things and this year i had the chance with my hubby and daughters to travel to the USA for 7 weeks. We did 7000 miles in that time, and 11 states. (oh, and did I mention shopping!!!) Many of my books are set in New Zealand where I live, which of course is upside down kinda with us having a summer Christmas and all, but in my book Desperately Seeking Santa, it was set in a fictional US town, in a snow storm though I've never lived in snow. Other books are time travels to 16C England and fictional islands off the Mediterranen. Lots of fun and imagination!


Savanna Kougar said...

LK, thanks for sharing. I love hearing about people's travels and seeing their pics. I haven't done near the traveling I'd have liked. Still, I've done enough to relate to what you're saying, and I absolutely agree.
I had to mentally travel via research on the internet to the contemporary setting of my next-up release. I wish I could have taken a trip and explored the area, though.
While it is paranormal shapeshifter, since it does take place on Earth, in the here and now, the actual setting had to be realistic.

LK Hunsaker said...

Mona, wow, that's a lot of travel!

Jane, you covered a lot of US ground over that trip. I love that you placed one of your stories over here in snow. Research and imagination make a powerful writing tool.

Savanna, it's much easier to armchair travel now with the internet. It makes everywhere at least partly available to us. And then we can make it available to readers. ;-)

StephB said...

I loved your photo from the airplane. I love flying in planes and I think the view from them is amazing. Thanks for sharing your pictures of America's heartland. I loved your post. You made your places as real as the people! Steph

LK Hunsaker said...

Steph, well thank you! Places can definitely be characters, too. :-) Aren't airplane photos amazing?

Jane Richardson, writer said...

LK, you just wrote a list of cities I would adore to visit! Never been to the US (my NYC scenes are definitely 'virtual') but I would love to go someday. Where on earth would I start, though? I will use your albums for reference should the day ever come. :)
Your photos of Edinburgh are wonderful - my old home! I used to cross over the rail bridge or the road bridge every weekend. I'd walk along Princes Street and wait by the Scott Monument for my bus! I worked 'doon the road' from The Scotsman building, and yes, I admit it - I've spent many a happy evening in the Deacon Brodie!
Thanks so much for sharing these. :)

Jane x

Cheryl said...

Hi Loraine!

A day late and a dollar short! I just wanted to let you know how I enjoyed the pictures and the way you have included these spots in your books. You know, there are times that I have bought books in the past that included Oklahoma City, because it's interesting to read a book set in a place you are familiar with.

I've never been to PA or many of the northeastern states, so this is all new to me, and I like seeing the places you are including in your writing.

LK Hunsaker said...

Jane, you're making me homesick for your old hometown. ;-) If you need US travel tips, let me know and I'll try to help!

Cheryl, thank you. If you ever can, wandering up through the northeast states by car is a fantastic trip. I haven't hit all of them yet but I plan to get there.