Using your travels in writing novels

I'm a big fan of using what you know, and know well, when writing a story. My Harvest Trilogy books two (Celluloss, due December) and three (Census, due 2015) focus on my hometown and surrounding small cities. It's easy to describe places you've known all your life. It adds authenticity which pulls the reader into the story where they can clearly visualize the location.

But another element is using your travels to add punch to a story. I traveled to Europe in 2010 hitting Cardiff, Wales, and Berlin, Germany on my itinerary. I'll be using my visit to Cardiff for my new series, The Ghosts of Cardiff, in 2015, but I fell in love with Germany. Maybe it's because I was born in Wiesbaden. Maybe it's because I took two semesters of German and wanted to use my new linguistic skills where they'd get the opportunity to get polished. Maybe it was the food, the architecture, or the people who were incredibly friendly. I'm not sure, but it felt like home. Because of this, I began my first series, the Kriminal Erotic Series, in Berlin (where I stayed for over a week). Exposed: the Education of Sarah Brown takes place in a few locales, but primarily in Berlin. My main character, Sarah Brown, travels to Berlin after having her heart broken to pursue her personal quest in sexual self discovery. Unfortunately, she gets caught up in the lives of others, one of whom has a dark past that puts her in danger. Still, she's a gal from Texas, just like me. (Order your copy from

I wrote about the very hotel I personally stayed in. I set up scenes in areas I'd walked or driven through. I described what I saw, and even depicted a restaurant where I ate dinner on my first night in that beautiful city. Man, I was tired. I'd been traveling non-stop for the four previous days by plane, train, and car. But I was so excited, we walked outside of the hotel and down the street and found a lovely Italian place. I really want to go back, but until then, I can relive that moment when I read Exposed, and you can, too.

So if you're writing a book, remember that places you've traveled make for colorful locations and descriptions for characters who are also first time visitors to that city or country.

Book two, The Evolution of Elsa Kreiss, takes off from where I left it Berlin. The emergence of this character and the enigmatic Kriminalkommissar Joseph Heinz will take center stage in the this next installment of the Kriminal Erotic Series. Look for book two in December!


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