In my life, I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to travel. It’s a good thing, because I inherited a very itchy foot from my maternal grandfather. Caesar (Carl) Weideman made his living as a waiter and his favorite type of waiting was on cruise ships. So off he’d go for weeks at a time, leaving my grandmother with two girls, one (my mother) who was reportedly a handful. He was a part of the life we like to imagine in romance novels with a historical twist.
Carl liked to bring back souvenirs. One, I remember, but which has since disappeared, was a brick from Pompeii. My own piece of history, from a trip to Berlin, is from the Berlin Wall.
Travel Started Early
My first airplane ride was at the age of nine. I couldn’t figure out the seat belt, so I rode the entire distance from Boston to Newark with my hand clasped over it so no one could tell. Memories do make the best travel souvenirs, don’t they?
I did take a cruise. There are slides of me, all grown up at 17, embarking from a New York City pier on my way to Europe for the first time. It was one of those student trips and the entire ship was filled with crazy teens from all over the country. My trip involved five countries: England, the Netherlands (where I finally turned 18), France, Switzerland, and Italy. I still have the small Pieta statue I picked up in Rome. The original affected me greatly, seen before it was attacked or put behind glass. A mother’s loss of her child is something horrible to bear–it has happened to my closest friend and a family member. Did Mary ever get past the ache in her soul? My friend and family member never did.
Another thing you gain when you travel–knowledge of others, culture, and the truths of the human journey we all experience.
Travel, Souvenirs, and Romance Novels
My DH and I both like to travel. The knowledge we gain and the people we meet are fodder for my romance novels. In fact, I truly enjoy books with a background of interesting history or places that people go. If the author can deftly weave in a sense of place, I’m enchanted. If they get the details wrong, it can be off-putting (I’m still bothered by the book that had a major plot point involving a pitch black evening on an eight o’clock summer’s night in Montana.)
And we both like to collect things–okay me more than him–that live with us in our little abode. As I look around I can see:
- Two resin birds from Oakhurst, CA
- A Kokopelli image from Bisbee, AZ
- A picture of bluebirds from Whitefish, MT
- A grass basket from San Luis Obispo, CA
- Two candlesticks from Delft, The Netherlands
- Small ceramic houses from France
- and more Delft ware.
It gets worse at Christmas when the ornaments come out!
When I write my stories, place is an important element. As one reviewer said about California Sunset:
“This book is a wonderful snapshot of the central coast of California and the people who inhabit this area. Ms. Dawes recreates the atmosphere, sensibilities and personalities with poetic realism. Not only is this a sweet love story about a struggling single mother, but a love story about California.”
And I try to incorporate something I might purchase in the area–a sandcastle from California, a jar of huckleberry jam from Montana, or a wool scarf from upstate New York. I don’t think I’d go for the cactus pancakes purchased in Austin, Nevada in Chasing the Tumbleweed, though. :-))
Opportunity for Chocolate
As Christmas approaches, I’m offering a chance to one of my romance readers to win some whisky truffles from Lolo, Montana in October. Not on my list? Just click the link above, enter your name and email and you’ll be added.