I haven’t been on a vacation since my first mystery novel (A VALLEY TO DIE FOR) was published in 2002.
Until that year, husband John and I went on yearly vacations in August. The gift/decorating/antique shop where I worked closed for three weeks in August to have cleaning and painting done, and so I could take a vacation. Since it was August and we were camping–sleeping in the back of our van–we went north for comfort. We love the ocean, so most frequently headed for a northern coast in the United States or Canada, though we saw quite a bit of the Great Lakes and central Canada as well. I have wonderful memories of all those vacations.
However, by the time my second novel, MUSIC TO DIE FOR (Ozark Folk Center State Park), had appeared, vacations turned into book research/and/or book promotion trips. In some ways, these were mini-vacations as well. Conferences and conventions? We have seen Austin, TX at a Bouchercon Writers’ Conference, and El Paso at Left Coast Crime. We fell in love with Omaha over and over during repeated visits to Mayhem in the Midlands, and enjoyed visiting the Washington DC area after a long trip by car to attend Malice Domestic. We have seen some of Indiana and Tennessee, several additional locations in Texas, plus Missouri and Kansas and, of course, Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Which brings me to another type of “vacation.” Book research trips. Since I site my novels at tourist destinations in the Arkansas Ozarks, most of my research is done on day trips. One of the more distant exceptions is A TREASURE TO DIE FOR, set in Hot Springs National Park. That required one two-week vacation stay, and two additional overnight trips. This was all the fault of my major characters, Carrie McCrite and Henry King. Carrie wanted to attend what was then called an Elderhostel, sited in Hot Springs. (As did her creator, Radine. What a happy coincidence.)
John and I enrolled in the chosen Elderhostel. Carrie, wanting to lure Henry into attending with her, followed friend Elinor Stack’s advice, and made a meatloaf, since (Elinor assured her) feeding a man meatloaf and oven potatoes was guaranteed to make him say yes to most anything. However, Carrie is no cook, and her road to meatloaf is covered, I hope humorously, in that novel. The eventual result did the trick, and Henry agreed to go along. ( He may have had regrets later because he ended up in more pain and more danger than even Carrie, though she had trouble enough on her own.) At the end of the novel, moved by many exterior and interior hazards lived through, he finally asks Carrie to marry him.
Which takes us to A WEDDING TO DIE FOR (The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Eureka Springs, AR), A RIVER TO DIE FOR (Buffalo National River), JOURNEY TO DIE FOR (A&M RR Passenger Excursion Train ride to historic Van Buren, AR), and A FAIR TO DIE FOR (War Eagle Craft fairs and Hobbs State Park).
Coming next year, A GARDEN TO DIE FOR. Now that doesn’t require a long trip at all.
Radine, at http://www.RadinesBooks.com