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 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 Lake 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 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 to 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!