I’m happy to say I just got back from a wonderful trip to Italy. After writing several stories set there, it was nice to finally experience the setting myself. At one point, I had an intense déjà vu feeling as I rode into Rome on a bus. I looked to the left and felt exactly what my heroine did when she came to Rome. True, she rode in a wagon instead of a bus, but it felt the same. The sun was even at the same angle in the late afternoon sky.
The second déjà vu moment hit me when we rode by the Tiber River at night. Again, it felt exactly the same as what I wrote. It looked very similar too, but the riverbanks are raised up now, a manmade invention. I felt her trepidation as she wondered where to find a safe haven for the night.
Before I left for the trip, a friend of mine bet me I’d get an idea for a book there. And how could I not? It’s Italy, after all.
Days passed by as I saw one beautiful site after another, fully occupied by the tour and various details like -- Did I remember to pack the sunscreen? Did I bring the camera? Does my husband have his passport? It seemed I was too busy to even remember I was a writer, much less concoct a story.
We went from Rome to Florence to Venice where I got a cold. By then, I’d long given up on getting any story ideas. But ideas are like romances. They strike when you least expect them and when you’ve stopped seeking them out. So there I was, sitting on a boat bound to the island of Burano -- cold, feverish, achy, and exhausted. I’d been taking notes from the tour guides through the whole trip in case I needed something for book research later, but I was too tired to drag my notebook out now. I didn’t even listen to the guide with full attention. The drone of the motor and pull against the waves was putting me to sleep.
And then the guide said something that made my ears perk up. He said the island of Burano was inhabited by glassblowers who were so good at what they did and so prized by Venice, they weren’t allowed to ever leave the island. They literally lived and died there.
And I thought, wouldn’t that make a dang good story?
Of course, if I write the story, I’ll have to go back to Italy. Research, you know…
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