Location, Location, Location

PJ Sharon, writing from Rome!

It’s been a whirlwind trip–fourteen ports in seventeen days–the trip of a lifetime. I’m exhausted, exhilarated and awe inspired. From the magnificent Greek Isles and the ancient ruins of the Acropolis, to the amazing city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, every port has been more beautiful than the last. I’ve walked on holy ground in Ephesus, Turkey and toured the iconic Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica. A stop in Tunisia, the majestic view from scenic Mt. Etna, and Flemenco dancers in Barcelona had my mind filled with possibilities for my latest WIP called 21 DAYS.

The story chronicles a sixteen year-old girl’s journey of redemption and recovery. After a second arrest, Ali Brannick is forced to overcome a marijuana habit, face the loss of her sister from a drug overdose, and deal with her mother’s subsequent breakdown. When there is finally no way to escape, will 21 days on a Mediterranean cruise with her grandmother give her a new perspective on life?

I got the idea for 21 DAYS when my mother-in law invited me on this cruise. Spending seventeen days on a cruise with my mother-in-law might sound like a mixed blessing and curse to some, but I love my mom, and we had an awesome time getting to know each other in a new way. She is Dutch and Indonesian, is multilingual, and very well traveled–the perfect guide. I won’t mention her age, but she has lived a full and adventurous life. She is healthy and fit, more flexible than I am at almost half her age. She and I even enjoyed yoga on the deck of the Nordam at sunrise. What a spectacular ship. Don’t even get me started on the food. Needless to say, I ate more than the fruit salad I’d planned on.

Mom often talks about her youth and tells heart-wrenching stories of growing up in German-occupied Holland during WWII. According to her, many of the ports we visited haven’t changed much over the last fifty or sixty years–or even the past hundred or two hundred years. Compared to the US, Europe is the heart of ancient civilization and culture. I was blessed to share it with someone who knows it as home and loves it like only a native can.

I’m happy to say I took copious notes and pictures and had ample opportunity to write, often taking Mom’s observations into account. I gave her the assignment of jotting down descriptions of people, places and general sensory impressions, hoping I could draw from her perspective as well as my own. I figured two sets of eyes was better than one. She delivered in spades. She used vivid imagery, all five senses, and had a unique perspective that will give my characters much more depth than I could have gleened on my own. Kudos Mom!

It’s difficult to say what my favorite location was since they were all so different, beautiful,and interesting, but I remember thinking when we stopped in Portofino, Italy the first day, that I was ready to stay right there and have the ship pick me up seventeen days later. I could have parked my butt in a little cafe in the village and spent my days looking out over the bright blue sea and writing, writing, writing.

I’ll include some pictures over the next few weeks and share a few stories about our wonderful travels. Nothing stimulates the imagination like a new and exciting adventure.

What exotic location has inspired your writing?

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10 thoughts on “Location, Location, Location”

  1. Other than a couple of my fantasy Virginia Reede novels, I’ve yet to write something set in a place I’ve never been. I am fascinated with Provence, and really, really need to fit in a trip there. For inspirational purposes, of course. Nothing to do with the food and wine…

    1. I hear you about the Provence-envy. I’ve also always wanted to go and see the prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux.

  2. Sigh. Makes muddy Vermont seem so much less glam than when I went there a couple of years ago. Let alone Portland, Maine, in November…The truth is, I’ve never been tempted to set a book somewhere fabulous. I must work on this and thus justify a glam vacation for work reasons…

    1. As our Casey would say, you are the Author Goddess! If anyone can figure out a way to make this work, it is you, Kristan!

  3. My stories are all set in a fictional resort town in upstate New York. It’s not Greece, but the St. Lawrence River has lots of islands and the scenery is stunning. I’ve been thinking about sending my heroine to Greece at some point, so a refresher field trip for me seems essential (I spent 6 weeks in Greece with my BFF after college, and I really want to go back). Hmmm, weren’t we just talking yesterday about creating our own happiness?

  4. You are right when you say the trip of a lifetime. I have travel envy. I have been to Spain and France, but now I have a bug to sell everything I own and go live in another country for a year. I am fighting that feeling tooth and nail, and of course my financial situation doesn’t permit it right now. I say you have been gifted with an opportunity to give your readers the chance to visit these wonderful places through the pages of your novel. You go girl.

  5. Can’t say we’ve ever been inspired by exotic locations, unless you’d consider NYC exotic. Even at that, it isn’t exactly true it has inspired us. We simply love it: We love the lights and the nightlife, the illusion of freedom, and we REALLY love the seedy underbelly….at least the one in our imaginations.

  6. What a magnificent journey. You are quite fortunate to have a mom like you do because I really think that culture exists beyond tourism and that is the benefit you have with her there. I feel ready to hear more about your travels and I would love to see those pictures you are taking. Post more, please, post more.

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