Guest blogger: Nancy Warren
The world is a book
“The world is a book and those who do not travel, read only one page.”—Saint Augustine
My favourite English teacher in high school once said that reading and travel are the best education. Even though I continued with my schooling for many years after that, I never forgot her words. Now that I’m probably the age she was when she made that statement I can see how true it is.
Especially for a novelist! And especially if you can take your time to get beyond the glossy tourist brochure of a place. Going to a new country, tired and a little unsure, realising you don’t know where anything is, and that every step you take is a new one for you is such a pleasure. When we write we use all our senses and when we travel it’s the same. Travel for me is about the smells in the air, whether it’s lavender fields in the south of France, the souks in Marrakech or the smell of slow-roasted lamb on the roadside in Peru. It’s the sounds of a language I don’t understand, the babble of a city or the sad clang of cowbells in the mountains. It’s the feel of the air, the sun, sea, dust, whatever is claiming your attention. Then it’s the sights. The way people dress, how they greet each other, the twisted cacti on the edges of the Mojave desert, the oceans and mountains and monuments of this world. And I left the flavors until last. The different foods and drinks are amazing. To travel really is to taste the flavors of life.
As a writer, few things are more useful than experiencing the way other people think and act and live since, of course, that’s what we do when we write fiction. We imagine other lives.
I’m Canadian, but I definitely have itchy feet and I’m lucky that I can write anywhere. A café in Paris? Pas de problem. Sitting over a Prosecco in Southern Italy? Si! Right now I’m living in Oxford in the UK. What I love about Oxford is walking down the streets and seeing the undergrads in their gowns, which they wear when they sit exams, so they all look like Harry Potter. I overhear snatches of conversation and these kids are so brilliant half the time I have no idea what they’re talking about. When you walk the streets of Oxford the stones absolutely breathe history and it’s easy to imagine you’re walking in the footsteps of famous people like JRR Tolkien, Oscar Wilde and more recently Helen Fielding and Hugh Grant.
Naturally, I often write about the places I visit. My visit to Australia (a land I adore and plan to return to soon) ended up inspiring me to write a trilogy of novellas, the Crane Series, which was partly based on the surfing culture I enjoyed so much, though don’t get me started on learning to surf. That sport is not for the faint of heart or weak of arm!
The UK inspired another series, The British are Coming. I’ve just released the fourth in the series, Courting Chloe, a full-length novel about a chic Londoner named Chloe who moves to Texas to start a business doing what she does best: helping people break up bad relationships. Her neighbor and landlord is ex-cop Matthew Tanner and Matthew’s not sure what to make of his gorgeous if exasperating new tenant. Anyway, he’s engaged to be married, so it’s strictly hands off. But Chloe can see from a mile away that he’s engaged to the wrong girl. Question is, what’s she going to do about it? The book is just out and launch priced at .99 for a very short time. You can find it at Amazon and Amazon AU.
If you want to know more about me or my books I hope you’ll check out my website at www.nancywarren.net.