I’m on the road. I just arrived in beautiful Salt Lake City on not such a beautiful day, but what incredible scenery. It’s my second time out west this year. In June, I was in Denver, Phoenix and Las Vegas touring for ABANDON, my most recent book, with side trips to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. In between these two trips west, I’ve scooted off to Dallas, New York, Maine and Toronto. Fortunately, I can write pretty much anytime, anywhere. I spent the first three hours of the flight to Salt Lake working on THE ANGEL, which is due out in hardcover in late April. I love this story, so it was easy to drag out my laptop, put on my iPod and dive in.
Not everyone can or likes to write on the road, but for me it can be fun and energizing. Some writers I know like to hole up in a hotel for the last week or two they’re working on a book. Total immersion. No distractions. It’s something I’ve never done, but I can understand the appeal—especially if it’s a nice hotel! I wrote part of THE WIDOW, which is due out in paperback in a few weeks, at the Hermitage in Nashville, one of my all-time favorite hotels.
I’ve learned the hard way to be very clear about what’s trash and what’s not trash. I left a print-out of BREAKWATER in our hotel room in Reno two years ago. I’d made about eight-hours worth of handwritten changes—no computer backup. We were on the tail-end of another trip west—we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego to San Francisco, then on to Reno and, finally, Lake Tahoe. After so many days on the road, the flimsy gray cardboard box that held my manuscript was very beat up…and out it went with the trash, never to be seen again. Live and learn…
Of course, I take trips when I don’t write at all. I like to give my mind a chance to roam. Last summer, we stayed in a cottage on a sheep farm on the southwest coast of Ireland—what an experience. I wasn’t doing research or even thinking about an Ireland-related book, but the moment we stepped into the ruin of the coastal stone cottage where my son-in-law’s great-grandfather was born…I knew a story had grabbed hold of me. I didn’t know what it was or when I’d write it, but, looking back, I realize I started writing THE ANGEL that day.
We’re off to Beverly Hills after Salt Lake City. I’ll be finished with THE ANGEL and look forward to giving my mind another chance to roam. Who knows what’ll happen—maybe I’ll just people-watch—but it’ll be an adventure.
Take care, and happy reading!