Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Study Abroad

Ten years ago (what??), I went to Germany for a month. At the time, it was the farthest I'd been from home. I guess it still is, since I haven't travelled any more to the east... 
I would have blogged about it back then, but all I had was Xanga (which, I used to death, and might have said something. I've long since lost my password, and haven't got the patience to guess words for the next hour). Heck, Facebook wasn't even around then (as far as I know), or I would have kept up with more of my classmates.

I was on the yearbook committee!

A sign we all liked for its specific request

Since digital cameras also weren't as common back then, I have physical photos. Here, you can see me taking a smartphone pic through the photo album plastic.

It made sense for me to want to write about a place that had such an impact on me, but it took a while to get the story just right. Not just anything could happen there -- had to be something interesting. Also, writing a thinly-veilled autobiographic "fiction" piece didn't interest me one bit. Myself as the main character is one of the more boring things I can think about.

Marienplatz, Munich

My stories start at a specific place: a scene I think about over and over. "Wow, that's interesting," I'll think to myself. But how did those characters get into such a predicament? I work backward and forward from there. I've tried writing about an experience I've been through, but it always turns into some melodramatic "woe is me" piece, and I threw them all away before anyone found them.

Where the epic fight (in the novel) starts and finishes

However, I love including places I've been as settings. The Silent Treatment is set in Memphis, where I grew up. I included street names and neighborhoods I'd been to for 20-something years. While some of my experiences will worm their way into the characters, it'll never be: Here's the story of my first day at work.

Do Not Spoil the Ending toyed with Toronto (though I'd like a do-over with the location -- I think I can place a more interesting story there). The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is set in New York City (where I live now). Since Kat Shergill's past put her in Philadelphia, I wouldn't mind exploring that a bit more too. And please rest assured something in the future will be set in Paris, because it's a beautiful, delicious city.

Last, but not least, Exchange in Eichstätt is officially available! Get your ebook now -- or if you prefer a paperback, I'll be releasing it very, very soon (formatting and cover design take a lot of tedious work).

Thanks to all my readers -- I hope you enjoy this latest installment.

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