TRAVEL DURING THE PANDEMIC
How would you complete this sentence: Be careful what you wish for because…? I suspect most of would say, “…because you may get it.”
I think that expression is apt during the COVID pandemic. Many Americans are bristling under travel restrictions now and dreaming of touring exotic locations. If they swallowed their pride, many would realize they’d be happier reading a novel set in a faraway place while seated in a comfortable armchair than actually experiencing the trip. I could also add that unfortunate travel dilemmas are hilarious when you’re not the one vomiting (I hope I’m not being too blunt.) or losing money.
A BOTTOM LINE FOR AUTHORS This is a good time to include travel in your novels. It will appeal to readers who are beginning to think of grocery shopping as a travel opportunity. You can also develop characters more fully when they are confronted with a challenging location.
Here’s an example. In Dirty Holy Water, my heroine Sara Almquist guesses her boyfriend Sanders plans to propose with the Taj Mahal in the background. A true romantic author would have Sanders propose as they gaze at the Taj Mahal shimmering in the mists at sunrise. As a mystery author who appreciates realistic settings, I felt that a romantic fantasy would leave out more than half the story. See what you think.
The guide promised the group a spell binding view of the Taj Mahal and hurried them off the bus. Sara was skeptical. She could see the gray Yamuna River with yellow mists above it and mud flats next to it. Scraggly greenery and rubble from buildings or walls filled the area between the bus and the river. She guessed the guide’s claim might be exaggerated because only three other buses were discharging tourists. Sara figured at least she wouldn’t be jostled during this viewing of the Taj Mahal and grabbed Sanders’s arm as soon as he alighted.
They strolled along the river. Women in brightly colored saris were washing clothes on the rocks at the water’s edge. Gradually the yellow mist lightened to gray and the outline of the Taj Mahal in a darker gray became visible. Sunlight hit the dome and it began to whiten and shimmer.
Sanders put his arm on Sara’s shoulder and guided her to a low wall. “We need to talk. Yesterday everything was so crowded and noisy. This is quiet but it looks….”
“Like the banks of a river that overflows it banks regularly?”
“Yes, but I expected it to be more refined and romantic.” He fumbled in his jacket pocket.
She realized he wanted to propose and might even foolishly go down on one knee in the mud. That would be a mistake—a funny one. She remembered a quotation from Oscar Wilde: “Nothing spoils romance so much as a sense of humor in the woman.”
She pulled his hand from his pocket and stroked it. “Yes, we should talk but why not after we go back to the hotel for breakfast? We can sit on a comfortable bench in the garden behind the hotel. It will be empty and quiet this morning”
He coughed. “I can’t eat. My gut….”
“I know. We can sip tea and eat a little toast or rice and then relax in the garden by the hotel.”
Blurb for DIRTY HOLY WATER: Sara Almquist is about to become engaged and leave for a vacation in India when she becomes the chief suspect in the murder of a friend. Only the friend and her family, well to put it politely, have a couple of dark secrets. Sara soon realizes the difference between a villain and a victim can be alarmingly small in a dysfunctional family.
Book at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0960028587
Disclaimer and Bio: I love the challenges of foreign travel. I learned more than I taught when I consulted on scientific issues in the Marshall Islands, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates. Accordingly, my protagonist Sara Almquist has consulted on science issues in the Middle East (I Saw You in Beirut), in Bolivia (Ignore the Pain), and Cuba (Malignancy) in my thrillers.
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/J.L.Greger/e/B008IFZSC4%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share