Sunday, September 27, 2015

Where the Heart Lives

A moment ago my author friend Lynn Shepherd (you can find her here: tweeted this: 

Don't you just love #Motive? Canadians of Twitter - is Vancouver really that stunning?”

Now I’m not Canadian, and I’ve not really watched Motive, but yes–Vancouver really is that stunning. 
Lynn’s simple tweet resulted in a nostalgic flash-back for me. 

Oh yes, Vancouver, and Vancouver Island… a dream place, a place like no other for the setting of a novel, a series of novels. 

The first time I went to Vancouver was in 2011. 
A twitter friend, Sue, had invited me. I didn’t want to go. It had been decades since I’d last been on a flight. Yes I said decades, and nine hours on a plane scared the living daylights out of me. 
“No,” I said, “Nuh huh. I’d love to, but no thank you.”
Fortunately for me, Sue was a flight attendant with Air Canada at that time. She promised to meet me in London and work on the flight back to Vancouver, and she’d make sure we got there in one piece. 

Which is how I ended up in Vancouver, Canada.
Standing on the beach of English Bay I felt like I was standing on the shore of a strange planet; I’d never been that far from home before. Driving along the road to Whistler felt like scaling the mountains of a different world. Thanks to Sue and her husband I didn’t feel completely displaced. 

Last year, I returned. It was like going home. 
I’d started writing The Nobody Girl, the first book in the Sunset Bay Series, which is set on Vancouver Island. So off to Vancouver Island we went, Sue and I, to find the places that I wanted to use as settings. 
“Tofino,” I had said, so that was our destination.
Why this small town on the west coast of Vancouver Island that sounded like an ice cream parlor? To my European ears Tofino sounds like a place in southern Italy. 

Of course, Tofino has nothing in common with an ice cream parlor. It has nothing in common with any place I know… wait; it does, in fact, and now that I’m writing this I’m surprised that it didn’t occur to me earlier. Tofino has a lot in common with Florø, Norway. 
My debut novel, The Distant Shore was set in Florø. For various reasons I renamed it Halmar in the book, but Florø and Tofino,  are pretty much alike it turns out. Now I’m wondering what that says about my writing. What is it with these western-most outposts that fascinates me so much? Why do my heroines hide in these small communities at the edge of the Earth before they find the courage to conquer the world?

Both Naomi and Liese, in an effort to escape a difficult situation, seek out the order, the open spaces of nature in the small life of a village. Both go on a journey within themselves before they’re ready for new relationships, new adventures. Both are insecure, hurt souls in search of a smaller, more structured life . 

Don’t get me wrong. They aren’t alike in any other way. 
Naomi is the spoiled and sheltered only daughter of a wealthy and powerful family. First she runs from her father, and then she runs from Jon Stone, the one man she loves. It seems her love for Jon has overtaken her own identity, leaving her a mere shadow floating at the edges of wildly colorful picture.
Liese, on the other hand, has made life hard for herself by choosing to live in Manhattan where she works a variety of odd jobs. Her dream is to be a writer, but she never asks herself if she’s got what it takes to be one. 

Both women blossom in the secluded place they pick for their ultimate flight. Both come to understand that they’re not who they thought they were. 

Well. Who’d have thought. This post started out as a fun piece on travel experiences, and somehow it’s turned into one about writing… again. Seems like I’m an author after all, and that I have something to say about my craft.

I promise, the next post will be about traveling, or maybe writing, or my son’s favorite dinner dish. 

Stay tuned! 


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