|My soon-to-be released coming-of-age|
romantic mystery, The Road to You,
involves a road trip down historic Route 66.
And I love all kinds of journeys, too: Flights to foreign lands, cross-country road trips, train rides through mountain passes and even the occasional river ferry.
But the thing I love the MOST about traveling is that, for a writer (or for anyone, really), it's a master class on point of view. I had a chance to observe this firsthand and somewhat dramatically when we took our son, who was 13 at the time, to England and Wales for a short visit last spring. It was his first trip abroad. His first passport. His first time buying anything with a foreign currency. (As an avid coin collector, this made a huge impression on him.) There were a lot of firsts.
A year and a half later, his "Mind the Gap" t-shirt is almost too small on him and his memories of the British Museum have faded a bit, but he still talks about that one older gentleman we met on the sidewalks of Chester. A man who spoke with an accent so thick that my Chicago-born son couldn't understand more than a few words. "And he was even speaking in English!" our resident teenager still declares with awe and amazement. "He was so nice, and he was trying to be really helpful, but I had no idea what he was saying!"
|My romantic women's fiction novel,|
A Summer in Europe (Kensington Books),
features a Grand European Tour across the
continent -- from Rome up to London.
Above all, our short, pleasant conversation with that lovely man became a tangible event that I could point to when I later spoke with my son about expanding his worldview beyond the confines of his junior-high environment. Trying to help him see that every single person is the hero or heroine of his/her own story, and that we relate to the people and situations around us through our own unique lens. That we need to strive to keep this in mind when we interact with everyone.
No parental lecture on the subject ever worked as well as that 5-minute live demonstration, though. My son remembers that guy in Chester -- quite probably, much more vividly than the kindly old gentleman remembers us. But the experience underscored something so important to me as both a mom and a writer: That being masters of viewpoint is at the heart of our job. To help our children see the world just a touch more perceptively. To help our readers experience our characters' lives as if breathing the air along with them. To give both our kids and our audience a clearer window into the journey of someone else...so they'll be better equipped to describe their own.
What are some of your favorite places to travel?
Marilyn Brant is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction, a founding member of the new Women's Fiction Writers Association and a lifelong travel junkie. Her next novel, The Road to You, will be out in early October. For more about the story or to enter a contest for one of five signed paperback copies, please visit her Goodreads page!