Daddy's Christmas Angel

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Exotic Spots Make Sweet Book Settings

Hyatt Regency Union Station - Sikes art
Last week, I presented a program, "From Exotic Destinations to Book Settings" to the Richmond Branch, National League of American Pen Women. During my talk I told them that my fascination with exotic book settings began years ago when I traveled in Europe just prior to my senior year in college. 

Part of my trip was spent in Vienna, Austria where I had some incredible deja vu experiences. All the buildings and even the feel of the city was familiar to me. I felt like I was coming home.

In more recent years, I spent another week in Vienna and once again experienced a familiar feeling with the old city surroundings. I even felt secure walking alone along the ancient streets. That was when I began to wonder, "Why do we have vu experiences?"

I told the group about my research into the subject of reincarnation that followed. That research encouraged me to use that subject as the theme of my first novel, Hearts Across Forever

Trips by car and by bus across America led to “wanderlust” and a desire to put some of the thousands of photographs I was taking into a coffee table book that became Hotels to Remember. To my surprise, I discovered that the design for St. Louis Union Station (the Hyatt Regency Union Station) was based on Carcassone, a fortified town in the south of France that has stood in some form for about 20 centuries. Since I had just returned from France and had taken photographs of the fortified town, I put two of them into my book. 

Sedona, AZ, the Grand Canyon, and Bell Rock became part of that book as well as part of the setting for my novel, Eagle Rising. Photographs taken in those areas of Arizona also inspired a series of my large acrylic paintings, I explained to the group. 

I talked about the Caribbean islands as settings that inspired more books, including Secrets by the Sea and Night Watch my latest mystery/suspense novel. More books will be set in the Caribbean, especially on the island of Guadeloupe where I've had some frightening and exciting experiences.

The island settings inspire me, but I haven't had other deja vu experiences as dramatic as my visits to Vienna brought on. And I haven't yet set a book in Vienna.

I love to travel and I enjoy sharing my experiences with other writers and artists. It's always fun to think, "What if?" And I continue to wonder what inspires other writers to choose a setting...


Helen Ginger said...

I think most writers have that "What If" moment. It either starts the author writing the book or it can provide ideas during the book. Where would we writers be without the what ifs?

Fun post.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've lived and traveled to many places and several locations would be great for a fantasy book.

Monti said...

Thanks, Helen and Alex, for your comments. I do love travel, but how behind it gets me with the actual writing!

Karen said...

I'm looking forward to delving into your book, Monti. I went looking for your artwork, but I can't get it to load when I click on it?

Thanks for sharing how the travel locales have inspired you, and your successful presentation!

Hugs! Karen

Monti said...


If you go to my web site:
(Alexis Hudson is a pen name that I have my web site listed under.)
and click on art gallery at the top of the home page you will get to a lot of my work. I just check and those pages of art are coming up. Unfortunately since I've been involved with blogging, I haven't done much to update my site.

Thanks for your interest in everything!!!

BodieP said...

What inspires other writers to choose a setting? For me, settings tend to fall into two groups: Places and times in which I've lived, and want to hold onto, and Places and times I will never be able to live, and wish I could. My books are full of fabulous, quirky houses, fragrant coffee shops, mysterious little towns that never seem to be in the same place twice...and golden harvest fields set against hot blue skies, false-fronted stores that smell of chicken and mold...summer-slow rivers that sparkle in the sun and smell of dried mud, green shadows, and the occasional rotted fish. Books can be magical time and space machines; in them, I can live anywhere, for as long as I want.