By Gail Gaymer Martin
Anything we experience that’s new to us is something we can keep an eye on and tuck into our mind and memories. As a novelist, I tend to view my surroundings with creativity and story possibilities. It’s amazing what can come from visiting new places using all of one’s senses to capture the aura and experience of where you are.
Just returning from an amazing cruise to Russia and Scandinavia, I have gathered brochures and memories that might one day result in a new novel set in one of those locations or even a novel involving a cruise.
I have purposely traveled to places that I want to use as a novel setting. I find that experiencing the town or location helps not only the reality of the story but also in creating characterization. Communities, states, countries affect the people who live there, and when writing a novel, I find those pieces of information interesting. We all realize that small towns introduce readers to a closer knit community than a metropolitan setting. So keeping those details in mind can help you develop interesting characters.
I also like to add realism to a novel, so when in a town, I keep track of restaurants, stores, parks, businesses, events and types of festivals enjoyed in that city. Often that information can be weaved into the story to add realism.
Even our experiences at home can create an idea or scene for one of our novels. One of my recent releases, called Love in the Air, takes advantage of my experiences on hot air balloon rides. I wanted to use that experience in a novel so while still in Michigan, I talked about doing that even though I have a fear of heights. My husband surprised me with a ride for both of us as a birthday gift. Once I saw the coupon, I started to question my desire to try this, but I will admit, I will never be sorry. The experience was amazing, and I learned so much about ballooning. We decided to take another ride after we moved to Sedona, since again I wanted to use the experience in a novel, which I did in Love in the Air, but I will admit I was disappointed. While my first ride in Michigan was a smaller basket with only four of us going up, in Sedona it was a basket that held sixteen people and it was so crowded that it was difficult to turn and see the views and since I’m short, I mainly viewed the back of heads. Never again will I do that, but the smaller baskets are wonderful to experience.
My newest book release, Secrets at Rose Arbor, was stimulated by a trip my husband and I took to Natchez, Mississippi where we stayed at a plantation house bed and breakfast. The uniqueness of the home, the lovely grounds with a beautiful rose arbor off a long gallery back porch helped to arouse my creativity and, recently, my newest release was born. After coming up with the story idea, I was able to contact the owner of that lovely plantation home for more information. She was very cooperative and excited about the book. The antiquity of the plantation and the history of Natchez worked together to kindle this story. I believe it is one of the most unique novels I have written.
Award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin writes romance and suspense. She authored Writers Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance and has 82 novels published with five million books in print. Gail is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers, a keynote speaker and workshop presenter. Born in Michigan, she lives in Arizona with her husband.