The View from David’s balcony…….
A few years back I wrote about the importance of place. I was reading my first work, Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown while I happened to be visiting New Orleans. In my years of travels I’ve been able been lucky to experience the feeling and cultures of other cities and towns.
When I wrote my first novel, Sailing in Silicon Valley, I wrote about a place I’d never been to. I asked friends and family about the area and pieced what I could from the internet. As I did multiple re-writes I swore each time, that the next time it would be in Half Moon Bay, California, where a good part of the book is set. For a lot of reason, that didn’t happen.
So at the urdging of those around me I finally booked a trip to Jackie’s first book land. I rented an incredible Air B&B further down the coast, and set off for the land all things David and Naomi. Years back I’d traveled to the Napa by myself but it had been quite a while since I’d traveled alone. My week away was to decompress and relax after the two most stressful years of my life thus far.
I also wanted to make the most of being where my first book was set. I arrived late on a Sunday evening and as I drove south from the airport in San Francisco, I cut over to Highway 1 to cruise along the Pacific, and right through Half Moon Bay. I was driving where the characters in my book would drive. (Side note here: Yes, I know my characters are not real, but ask any other author about their characters and they’ll go on like they’re family members. It’s an author thing!) As I crested tall hills the sunlight was the most beautiful golden yellow color, and suddenly there was the Pacific Ocean. I had finally made it to Half Moon Bay!
As I drove, I tried to take in every little detail, and stay on the road at the same time. I was mesmerized to be somewhere I’d written about, researched, and discussed constantly as I wrote. Originally, I’d tried to stay in Half Moon Bay but it didn’t work out and I ended staying about an hour south of there at my own (rented) beach house on the coast.
I fell asleep each night to the sound of the ocean as my characters would have, and I walked on the beach like they would have. What an experience!
I took one whole day and drove around Silicon Valley. I went to Apple because I think that is most like the company in the book. I had a fancy coffee in their gift shop, and then wandered around Stanford for a bit. I had a decadent lunch in Palo Alto. The whole thing was like living pages in the book and it was incredible.
I’d love to gush on about how it recharged me as a writer, and I started or finished a new work, but the truth is… I wrote a little and nothing of consequence. But this trip wasn’t about that, it was about resting and recharging. I did however read an incredible romantic comedy, on the balcony overlooking the ocean. It was so good I read it in one day! The book is called The Optimist by Sophie Kipner. I seriously could not put it down. It is laugh out loud funny, and I usually am not a big romantic comedy reader but this one was a treat!
I am currently querying, and looking for representation for Sailing in Silicon Valley. Not matter what happens, this book will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my very first novel. It will now hold a special place because it was the catalyst for this incredible experience. Seriously, if you have the opportunity to experience something like this, do it! I only wish I would have went while I was still re-writing.