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Travel the World With Me
I love scouting out locations for books–then taking readers along with me.
Day of the Dragon, my December Berkley release, is no exception. The story is about dragon-shifter Ramsey Gallagher, who’s lost many of his powers, including the ability to shift to dragon form.
When he meets archaeologist Madison Dartmoor, he thinks her research might hold the key to his past–and future. But as their relationship heats up, he knows that there will be hell to pay when she discovers his secret. And he’s afraid he may end up lonelier than he’s ever been in his long life.
The novel is set in five great locations, starting with Las Vegas and ending in Peru, where I went searching for some interesting places for Ramsey and Madison to make love–and dodge the bad guys’ bullets.
It was tempting to choose Machu Picchu because the ancient site provided a personal “wow experience” for me. But a lot of people visit this Inca city high in the Andes. Which means it’s crawling with tourists, and my hero and heroine would have had very little privacy.
I might have used the area around Paracas, because that’s where you find the Nazca lines, which were scratched in the desert thousands of years ago. They depict huge figures like a hummingbird, a monkey, and human hands, all of which can only be seen from the air. Because the shapes are virtually invisible on the ground, some people think they were meant as space beacons. That idea fits in well with my story, and we did fly over them–a stomach-churning experience as the small aircraft weaves and circles.
But I decided not to go there in the book because the location is so isolated. Instead, I sent my hero and heroine to the Colca Canyon area. It’s a dry desert where condors with ten-foot wingspans glide on the canyon thermals early in the morning. I didn’t even know a bird could have wings like that until I saw them. And I certainly didn’t know that a colca is a hole that ancient Indians dug in the side of a cliff as a burial or storage chamber. That information turns out to be important in the book.
There’s a lot of research from my Peru trip in Day of the Dragon, including the nosebleed I got from the high altitude. Also the poverty of the little towns we drove through with our guide, the bumpy roads, the colorful Indian costumes and the hotel where we stayed in Arequipa, the starting point for a trip to Colca Canyon.
Luckily, I didn’t get shot at like Ramsey and Madison while out in the desert. But I did get to bottle-feed baby llamas and alpacas.
Every trip to Peru starts and ends in Lima–which turns out to be full of gambling casinos.
When I wanted to give my hero an excuse for prowling the city at night–so he could get into some interesting trouble--I sent him to one of the casinos.
That was just some of the fun of scouting unique locations for a story I loved writing. And when you read the book, I hope you find the little details as fascinating as I did.
- Rebecca York
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