Hello - am earlier today - hope you are all well. Since I have been asked to talk about my travels and favourite places, I thought I would tie this in with Sources of Inspiration. In Sign of the Times, we visit Switzerland and Italy, a well as Scotland. I have already said that Barcelona will feature in The Dating Game. I have just counted, from my huge world map that I have on the wall here and I have visited altogether 46 countries (I am including Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales as separate countries of course!) The saying goes that travel broadens the mind and I completely subscribe to that. I've been to an Azeri/Russian wedding in Azerbaijan, supped wine in Napa Valley and Niagara-on-the-Lake and climbed Sigiriya, the UNESCO world heritage site in Sri Lanka - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigiriya - what I want to know is how did the King get up there, back in the 5th century?
I will undoubtedly include some episodes/anecdotes from these travels in future writing, but as to favourite places, Italy and Spain have to be the European ones (Tuscany and Andalucia in particular, although Barcelona and Seville are my favourite European cities). In the US, San Francisco followed by New York and possibly, unexpectedly Atlanta, Georgia, if not only for its amazing aquarium, where I first viewed the beluga whale - they are gorgeous.
I had always wanted to visit Japan and am pretty adventurous with regards to food, but after three days of eating food which I couldn't always identify, as of course everything was in Japanese and not all restaurants had pictures, I finally found a great Italian restaurant - who would have though that in the heart of Ikebukuro nestled a gem of an Italian restaurant, or perhaps it was the fact that I had been living off hotel breakfast and Starbucks' muffins since my arrival. I must add that on my first visit to Tokyo there was an earthquake, the second time there was a monsoon. My timing was always excellent.
I have visited Brazil several times, mainly to Sao Paulo, which apart from the traffic, I absolutely love. My particular favourite is Ibirapuera Park, which is so beautiful and huge that it rivals Central Park in New York. I have also been to Natal, in the North East, which is where all the rich Brazilians go. We were lucky. At that time Thomson had a direct flight. They stopped it - boo! We would have gone back in a heartbeat.
So, when I am on holiday or travelling for work, I consciously and subconsciously absorb the sights, the smells, the scenery, the people, the culture. All of these things inspire me, give me ideas of what to write about. I have too many ideas and not enough time to write! But even if you can't jet off somewhere, even nipping into a coffee shop in the west end of Glasgow, to write and watch the world go by, can often provide fodder for writing. Simply looking at the clothes people are wearing, they way they interact with each other, the food and drink they choose, the layout of the coffee shop, the passers-by in the street, the noises from the city; all of these combine to provide valuable context and the occasional idea which gets used in a piece of writing.
Watching my nephews or parents interacting with their children, children playing, two friends squabbling, a couple kissing in the street, an angry businessman shouting into his mobile phone - again sources of inspiration.
The largest inspiration of all though and I'm sorry (well, not really) if this sounds twee, is knowing people are reading my work/book and enjoying it. I have been receiving comments, not always as reviews about the characters and Sign of theTimes as a whole, which make me laugh or make me reflect. I'll include a few of these comments in the blog next time.
Now, if you haven't already read Sign of the Times, download the 10% free from Amazon and see if it's your cup of tea and if you like it, buy it - your cup of tea will cost more!
http://amzn.to/GKqZGd & http://amzn.to/IYN0Fc
Have a good day, Sooz
PS if you haven't already guessed, I haven't written any of The Dating Game today - but I will by tonight - promise!