Globe-trotting Characters

One of our foxes asked, “If you had an unlimited amount of funds and time to visit any place in the world to do research for a book where would you go? Do you have a project in mind?”

This question made me think. Many of my stories take place outside the United States. I have three books (soon to be four) set in England, one in France, one in Greece, and one in Japan. I’ve visited all of these countries, and I’m sure that I drew upon my memories of those places when creating my settings.

scrapbook England

Pages from my scrapbook. There’s so much to see in London! I had to imagine the characters in my regency stories in these settings.

In the case of my historical tales, I knew what many historical buildings looked like, but I had to be sure certain landmarks existed during my chosen time period. I also had to find out what homes were like, what people wore, and what they ate. I watched movies and relied heavily on information gleaned online. If I had a question but was unable to find an answer online  I would ask someone. I belong to

France

This French village (minus the traffic signs and paved roads) was my model for Three French Inns.

several writers groups both online and in person, so generally there would be someone who would have researched the topic already. In the few cases when that failed, I contacted a colleague at the university where I teach. I’ve had really good luck finding history professors who cheerfully answered my questions. And then after the manuscript was done, I tried to find one of those experts to read the manuscript for historical accuracy.

S1051571.JPG

Observing my mother’s family, I learned a lot about Japanese traditions for The Samurai’s Garden.historical accuracy.

Still, knowing what a place looks like now doesn’t give one an accurate picture of what it looked like in the past. In some cases there are paintings, and those are very helpful. I’ve also consulted maps and read descriptions written by people who lived during those times. This was more difficult in the case of my Japanese historical. And though I’ve got family connections to the country, I’m not fluent in the language, so I can’t ask my aunt, who’s a history buff and well versed on the samurai era. Fortunately, I found a diary written by an Englishwoman who visited Japan during the time my novel is set! She verified that many of the traditions and ideas I’d seen during my visits were the same during the nineteenth century, so I felt better about including them in the book.

 

Greece beach

It was so much fun to write about the beautiful beaches on the Greek island of Paros after having walked there!

In the case of my contemporary novella set in Greece, I would have to say that BEING THERE definitely added to my ability to be accurate about my setting, as well as traditions and beliefs. Aegean Intrigue was written just after my visit to the island of Paros, where my daughter spent a semester abroad. I talked a friend into going with me to visit. Being there helped me capture the flavor of the island and include details I wouldn’t have found by reading.

So in answer to the question, I guess I would be more likely to go somewhere if I were writing a contemporary story set in a place where I hadn’t been. I’ve always said that a life goal was to visit every continent. I’ve crossed Antarctica off the list (after spending all these winters in Michigan I’m not eager to go someplace even colder), but I still want to visit South America, Africa, and Australia. At one time I considered writing a series based on the main characters in Aegean Intrigue. He’s a PI, and she’s an anthropologist. If I give it some thought, I could have them dive into adventures all over the world!

Now, all I have to do is decide whether to pursue this thought or complete the projects I’ve already started…

 

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About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Kiyono/e/B0067PSM5C/
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7 Responses to Globe-trotting Characters

  1. jeff7salter says:

    While I’m envious of you for your many overseas travels — to places I’d also like to visit — I must confess that I have less and less desire to travel to other countries these days… because of all the issues with security and safety. Seems as though the world has gone nuts and too many want to do too much harm. But I don’t want to shift your post into a geo-political analysis.
    To the best of my recollection, of some 120 or 130 story “starts” none of mine are set outside the Continental U.S. except for one I’ve set at Thule AB, where I was stationed for most of a year.
    More about that on Thurs.

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I guess I’m a bit concerned about the terror in the news, too, but not enough to put a stop to my travels. The last time I went to London (2005), there was a bombing in the subway less than two weeks after we got home – and we had used the Tube a LOT while we were there. The Narita airport had a mass shooting one day after my mom went to visit her sisters. Bad people have been around for a long time, and I’m not about to let them get in the way of my seeing the world.

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  2. I have had one story started for some time and it would be WONDERFUL to do the research for it myself, but that is Friday’s post.

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  3. Aegean Intrigue is up next on my the list. I’m really looking forward to it.

    I don’t think I’d have an interest in travelling to Antartica either. I love winter but I wouldn’t want to go there.

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  4. Claire says:

    Go travel the world! We only leave once! 🙂 Plus I am based in London and French by birth, Europe is much safer than the media are probably showing. Plus, us Europeans are awfully stubborn and no one will ever take our ‘joie de vivre’ away from us! https://claireimaginarium.com/

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