Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rolling through the Heartland

When this post goes live in the early hours of Saturday morning, I'll be rolling through the desert in either Utah or Nevada on my way to San Francisco for the Romance Writers of America National Conference. I'm not a flyer, so I like to travel by Amtrak. I get to kick back, do some work, watch the scenery go by, and dream up stories about the places and people outside the train's windows. Because while the middle of the nation may be "fly-over" country, the train takes me through the areas filled with Harlequin American readers and the settings for many wonderful small-town stories. Places like Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.

There's nothing quite like writing a story set in Colorado while sitting on a train winding along the Colorado River in the rugged western part of the state. Or watching the sun come up over the desert, a landscape so very different from where I live in the South, and brainstorming ideas for a story set there. What characters would live there? Why? What would their romantic conflict be?

I've done the same thing on car trips. How many of you have gone on vacation and come back with at least one story idea?

It's interesting to think about creating a story in a setting that perhaps doesn't get as much exposure as, say, Texas. :) I mean, I'm sure there are wonderful hero types in Nebraska. Maybe he runs a wagon train for tourists who want to experience life along the Oregon Trail. Or what about a firefighter in Iowa? He not only fights fires, but he has to rescue people caught in blizzards. Imagine if you were the heroine caught in that blizzard and hunky rescue guy showed up to dig you out of the snow. Oh yeah, the ideas are popping. I have a feeling I'll be jotting down snippets in my notebook as my train rolls across the Great Plains, the Front Range, the Rockies, the desert Southwest, and the Sierra Nevada.

So, readers, tell me about some places you'd like to see stories set that you haven't seen. And writers, what story ideas have you had that were generated by trips not taken for that purpose?


MaryF said...

I'm partial to TX ;)

Oregon, maybe, though, or Washington state...Alaska, Maine.....

Lee McKenzie said...

Enjoy your train trip, Trish! I'll be traveling with Amtrak from Seattle to San Franciso. See you there!

In addition to being inspired by the scenery, I've met some very interesting characters on the train ;)

Ellen said...

This doesn't exactly answer your question but: I would love to be able to travel by train but two things stop me. One is that I would have to drive 150 miles to get to a station for Amtrak and two I have severe motion sickness when I travel by planes, trains and boats.

Trish Milburn said...

Hello, all. Amtrak delivered me safely to California.

Lee, I've met some very interesting people on the train too. Met a young couple this trip who have been saving up for 10 years and are doing a year-long around-the-world tour before settling down and having kids.

Ellen, I have to drive 3-4 hours to get to the nearest train station.

Estella said...

I think stories set in the Dakotas and Idaho would be intersting.