I've been thinking about how traveling is like writing, how living in another country is like writing a novel. In my adult life, I have lived overseas for various periods of time: from half a year to two years in almost a half-dozen countries. Brazil for a year as young seventeen-year-old exchange student.
|Just home in 1971 from a year in Brazil|
With friend Tomoko in Japan, 1977
|With a diviner and her grandson in Burkina Faso, 1999|
Before I packed my bags and headed for a new home, I'd mostly never been to that country before, with brief exceptions for France and Mali. I'd certainly never lived in any of those places and didn't really know what to expect. The language, people, and culture revealed themselves to me as time went on. When I came home, I was done with that life. I haven't returned to live in any of those places, and only to Brazil did I go back for a brief visit. I’ve made plenty of repeat visits to places in the US and Canada, but I haven’t returned to live on other continents.
Writing a book is like that, too. When I start, I might have an idea of where I'm going, but I don't really know the story. I've never written it before. I create a cast of new characters to go along with the core series characters, and these new people gradually reveal themselves to me: the way they talk, their problems, their joys. And after I turn in the book, I'll never write it again. I’ll refer back to it when I write the sequel, talk about it at a library event or on a panel, or write a blog post about it, but basically I'm done with that story and moving on to the next.
|Where Edith writes|
Since the books I write are all set in northeastern Massachusetts (so far), my research keeps me at home. I haven't lived overseas since I started writing novels in earnest in 2009, although I have visited Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, and am planning a trip to Italy in a couple of years. I guess I'm doing my traveling in my head and on the pages these days. And I love it.
Readers: do you repeat visits to far-off places? What would be the one place you’d like to go back to again and again? And do you reread books?
Here's Edith's biography and contact information: Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods Mystery series (Kensington Publishing), the Speaking of Mystery series under the pseudonym Tace Baker, featuring Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau (Barking Rain Press), and the historical Carriagetown Mysteries, as well as award-winning short crime fiction.
A mother, world traveler, and former technical writer, Edith lives north of Boston in an antique house with her beau and three cats. She blogs every weekday with the Wicked Cozy Authors. You can find her here: