When I first started road-tripping to different states, I began collecting state magnets so I could build a map of all the places I’ve been. In the beginning, it was places close to where I lived. And as I began traveling by air with roommates and friends and for work, it expanded south and west. Airports didn’t count. I’d have to actually set foot on the ground in that state.
Here’s a pic, though I’ve lost many of them over the years during house moves, from my daughter dropping them down the heating vents, even from cats playing with them. We’ve filled in the fridge with other kinds of magnets too, ones specific to the places we’ve been. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Bar Harbor, Maine. Hatteras Island, North Carolina. Kennedy Space Center. Williamsburg, Virginia.
I’d like to get the rest of those state magnets. Every visit to another place is another plot bunny, another source of inspiration. Our visit to the Caribbean last summer will wind up in the next book I’m writing. We’ve been to Shenandoah National Park, and that wound up in Matzoh and Mistletoe. Jeremy, the hero of the book, has pictures of himself throughout the years in front of the Jeremys Run Overlook sign on family vacations.
I also scour used book stores and secondhand stores for travel books for places I’d like to visit — and places I’d like to write about. And not just travel guides, but also books about local legends and lore. Vintage guides are also a lot of fun, and can provide a lot of inspiration, even if you write contemporary. I’ve got a small shelf of them now, and it’s always growing. (And yes, I know I can use the interwebz. But I like having the glossy pictures in my hand!) . I also make sure to pick up tourism guides from places we visit, and I’ve asked people going different places if they can pick them up for me as well.
Now that we’re starting to do college visits with our daughter, I imagine I’ll have a lot more inspiration coming my way. Who knows? Maybe soon I’ll have a book set in New England, since that’s a definite stop on our college tour calendar!
Who’s up for a road trip?