You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2015.

It’s by far the most frequently-asked question a writer gets. Dr. Seuss famously told people, “I get all my ideas in Switzerland near the Forka Pass. There is a little town called Gletch, and two thousand feet up above Gletch there is a smaller hamlet called Über Gletch. I go there on the fourth of August every summer to get my cuckoo clock fixed. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, I wander around and talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get my ideas from them.” 

So is it any wonder I went on a quest to Europe?

2015 SW in cassis

The Calanques near Cassis. Hike until you drop...or until inspiration strikes.

The Calanques near Cassis. Hike until you drop…or until inspiration strikes.

Once again, we relied on advice from locals. In Aix-en-Provence, we bought matching pinky rings (I know. I know!) and a cool necklace made with tagua nut beads. The jeweler urged us to go to Cassis. He was an incredibly sincere person and a fine artist, with his atelier right there in h is tiny shop. Since I’m a big believer in following one’s instincts–off we went.

There were some fine and inspiring surprises there. A torrential downpour, complete with lightning strikes and waves crashing against the phare.

An old-school hotel perfectly situated at the harbor, where you could stand at the balcony and watch the fishing fleet going out. A friendly shop keeper who offered us her parking space, because in the old town, parking is virtually impossible. And bouillabaisse, which is both art and religion here.

France’s newest national park–The Calanques (“creeks” but they’re not creeks; more like towering cliffs like the ones in South Africa or Sydney, Australia) is criss-crossed by hiking trails so long and twisty and tough that you just have to jump into the crystal blue water. And by the way, the water quality is officially rated, and the water here is rated “excellent.” Clean and clear.

And chilly. But whatever. And while there, I watched a very attractive older couple holding hands to wade into the water on one of the tiny, rockbound beaches.

“It’s cold,” the woman protested, sucking everything in.

“We’ve driven a thousand kilometers to get here,” said her husband. “We’ve got to do it.”

And a moment later, they were swimming and laughing like children instead of seventy-year-old pensioners.

And a moment after that. I had an idea.

See? Easy. You just have to travel to a remote part of the world you’ve never heard of, et voila! 

We went to Lourmarin and Cassis, both suggested by locals in Aix. This is when you open your mind and let the book start talking to you. It’s always a good idea to talk to locals. Fortunately, my very good French from way back is still pretty good French after a few verres de vin. Even if you don’t speak the language, there is always a way to talk. Just try not to be self-conscious about it.

We stayed at a mas (more on that later) near Laguiole, home of the world’s finest knives, and a nice lady at the farm told us to check out Belcastel. We spotted a sign pointing to it, drove the twisty road, et voila! Look where we ended up. You barely need an imagination to think of the stories breathing from the past here.

I love traveling with Jerry, even when he takes sneaky pictures of me. Enjoy this view of Belcastel, in the Aubrac region of France.

My adorable daughter suggested Aix as our home base. We found a splendid apartment in the old town and moved right in. So here’s Aix–a funky university town housed in an ancient and venerable city. Markets, music, food, energy…I had my hair done (lisse et raide) in a salon that called itself the “best fucking cut shop” (painted on the window, sorry) and bought a cool necklace made from a nut. Trust me, it’s cool. And I thought about my book. The characters from the past who are pointing the way for the characters in the now.

Here’s Aix at sunrise:

When you’re traveling, embrace your jet lag. When you wake up, grab your notebook and start writing.

If you’ve ever taken a trip on a train or ferryboat, you know what I mean. You’re forced off the grid, leaving you 2 choices: read or write. It’s singularly relaxing. This is known as reader (or writer) heaven. From Paris, we took the TGV (tres grande vitesse) train to Aix-en-Provence. 3 zippy hours in a comfy seat with France out the fenetre.

Paris gare de lyon

What did I write on the train?

Sometimes productivity is overrated.

Sometimes productivity is overrated.

And what did I read? An international bestseller called THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND… by Swedish author Katarina Bivald. It will be published in the US in January, and you’re going to love it.

I am on a working vacation. When you’re a writer, it’s not a contradiction in terms, because your job comes with you in your head wherever you go. So if you go someplace awesome, you’re still working. But trust me, it doesn’t suck.

First stop–Paris. I finished FAMILY TREE (coming in 2016) and started research on my next book. Here’s the Jardin de Luxembourg and it doesn’t look much like Paris but when I see beehives, I have to take a photo because, well, beehives.

paris-beehives

I love discovering strange shops that sell things like mushroom hunting knives. Here’s one on Boul’ St. Germain called Le Prince Jardiniere:

paris - le prince jardiniere

My amazing husband Jerry takes the best people-watching shots. Check out this French kid taking a selfie in Place des Vosges, aka the prettiest square in Paris:

paris-place des voges

Join me on Facebook. You won’t be sorry.

I tend to spontaneously give stuff away to readers and libraries. Join the fun here. Really.

take a look at a book

Buy or borrow my books at WorldCat.org.

Search for an item in libraries near you:
Enter title, subject or author
WorldCat.org >>

Blog Stats

  • 792,931 hits

Pages

October 2015
S M T W T F S
« Sep   Dec »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031