Writers find inspiration everywhere — from their family life, TV shows, newspapers and beyond. But there is nothing quite like an international trip to get the creative juices flowing. In April, four romance authors ventured overseas for research, a little bit of business and a whole lot of vacation time. Today CJ Lyons, Nina Bruhns, and Cynthia Cooke talk about their recent trip that started in London and then continued in Paris where they were joined by Michele Hauf.
CJ Lyons' experiences:
I've never been to Paris but several of my characters have, so it was great fun and very inspiring to finally make it to the "City of Light." I walked the same streets my characters walked, admired the architecture, strolled beside the river, drank at some of the same cafes, including the world famous Angelina's, and finally visited the place they would call home: the Catacombs.
CJ Lyons at Angelina's in Paris
The characters I'm talking about are Rosa and Padraic, the grandparents of the heroine of my Hart and Drake medical suspense series. They were trapped behind enemy lines in occupied France during WWII and their adventures raising havoc with the Nazis have been woven throughout the series. With fans begging for the "real" story of Rosa and Padraic's escape from the Nazis, I used my trip to Paris to research, including traveling belowground to the Catacombs that once were a headquarters for resistance fighters. Here, among the skulls and ancient bones, I found my inspiration and I can't wait to find time to write this story that my fans have been so anxious to read!
Cynthia Cooke’s experiences:
London and Paris with my writing buddies was a dream trip on so many levels! We all wanted to see and do different things, so we saw it all in a blur of activity. London was amazing — clean, safe, friendly. Beautiful. The Salisbury Cathedral was absolutely stunning. Stonehenge was magical even in the rain, and Oxford made me wish I could go back to college. The entire trip — train rides and subways, museums, and sitting in churches built 900 years ago was inspiring. Paris with its winding streets and incredible architecture, the cafes and cookies, the river cruise down the Seine — really too many wonderful experiences to list. Nina Bruhns and I plotted novellas while riding on top of buses and standing in line for exhibits. How could we not be inspired when surrounded by so many creative and beautiful things?
Authors Michele Hauf, Cynthia Cooke and Nina Bruhns
Michele Hauf’s experiences:
I spent two weeks in Paris and it absolutely flew by. I still can’t believe it happened. We arrived at the beginning of high season and the city was crowded with tourists, but so many fascinating things to see, amongst them Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Jardin des Plantes and Jardin du Luxembourg, too many museums to list, Versailles, and the Tuilieries. 80% of what I write is set in Paris so everything I see, touch, smell and hear is all considered research.
But being on vacation (which hasn’t happened in a loooong time) I tried to avoid thinking about writing (didn’t work most of the time). My goal was the Macaron Quest. I decided that every time I got near a macaron I would buy it and eat it. I tossed my ‘no sugar’ rule aside, and just went wild. Okay, so I confess, this was research too. I have a heroine who loves macarons and tends to label people as a macaron flavor (ex: the hero is very much the sweet tangy surprise of the chocolate yuzu macaron). I hit Ladurée, Pierre Herme, Angelina, Paul, and yes, even McDonalds (they were quite good). Tough research, right? Look for that story sometime in summer of 2014.
Nina is currently jet-setting once again so she wasn’t available to detail her experience, but I can say, that while CJ had her hot chocolate quest and Michele was lusting after macarons, Nina served her Italian gelato fix! Nina also filled the days with work, research and much touristing. She really knows how to find a great bargain at the flea markets that edge the city of Paris, and it was Nina who knew the most French and we were all very glad when she could jump in and get us out of a pickle when no one could understand us.
Have you ever traveled for inspiration? What about a trip with the girls? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.