Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Vacation in your Living Room

Now that I've completed my series on inspirations, let me take you on a trip.

I recently returned from a trip through the Mediterranean, inspired and motivated.  There were some very interesting observations I made.

On the downside, there is a distinct lack of real estate, so the cities are very overcrowded. The unemployment rate is high, so pickpockets abound (keep close watch on your valuables). And there is graffiti everywhere. Everywhere. Traffic is insane, and yet walking the narrow, cobbled streets is a sensory experience.

Aix-en-Provence, France
I walked through an open-air market in Aix-en-Provence (that's pronounced "ex"), France, and smelled freshly ground spices available for sale. Flower vendors. Fruit and vegetable vendors. The closest thing we have over here is a Farmer's Market that shows up once a week for a couple of hours. Over there, the market opens every day, all day. (I would insert a picture of the market, but there was an unfortunate mishap with the photos in France).

Port of Toulon - France

 There are walled cities along the coast, designed to keep invaders out, straight out of a history book or a medieval romance novel. While sections of these walls have been knocked down or eroded, they are still very much in evidence. Every town square has a fountain, and there is statuary everywhere. And don't get me started on the abundance of churches/cathedrals/basilicas. Turn a corner, see a bell tower. Architecture is stunning. We walked through one village that remains inside its walls (although the doors to the walls have long since been removed). No cars on those streets. If I were any good at writing history, I could easily imagine a young French woman carrying a basket of something through the narrow passages, not unlike Cyd Charisse in Brigadoon (okay, wrong country).
Eze-Village, France

All of this led me to contemplate settings for stories. I've frequently used vacations as backdrops, but I almost always come back home to Chicago somewhere in the story (Living Canvas is a prime example of vacations in Scotland and in Fort Lauderdale). I have to tell you, my imagination has already kicked up a story in Aix, but it will have to wait until I've completed edits on Mist on the Meadow.

Eze-Village, France

Do you enjoy "destination" stories? Stories that take you on a tour of some place you've never been, or some place you love? A vacation in your own living room? Or is the locale an insignificant backdrop?


  1. I do enjoy vacation destination books, especially if the story takes place somewhere that I have visited - make it all that much more real. Especially if I recognize something in the story that I have seen. I love your pictures from France - we only spent 1 day there on a cuise that we took 3 years ago and I'm sure we saw the place in your pictures. That would make a good setting for a story! (hint hint).

  2. Yes, story ideas already poking me to find their way to the page!