Earlier this week I shared the very exciting news that I have a new book coming out with Berkley next year, and a second in 2021. I loved working with the Berkley/Penguin Random House team on FINDING FRASER, and am beyond thrilled to have a chance to do it again.
Something new in the process this time was that I [my immensely talented agent Laura Bradford, actually] sold these books on proposal. This is the first time I’ve ever sold a book this way, so the experience was very new to me. I’m not going to talk a lot about it here [ugh…shop talk!], apart from noting that, in practical terms, what this means for me is that the first book — EIGHTY DAYS IN APRIL — isn’t completely finished yet. [As for the second book? Still little more than a twinkle in its’ writer’s eye, ttytt…]
EIGHTY DAYS is almost done, but — it’s missing something. A little verisimilitude, perhaps? But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me step back a moment.
EIGHTY DAYS IN APRIL is the story of a young woman who’s never been out of New York City, who, in order to save her family’s independant bookstore, embarks on a re-tracing of the steps of one Phileas Fogg, fictional protagonist of Jules Verne’s 1873 novel, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. [This story was famously translated by American George Makepeace Towle in 1873, which only goes to show that the most important thing to carry with you when undertaking a journey is a Towle…*]
My girl Romy has to make the journey without benefit of commercial aircraft, AND manage the whole circumnavigation in under a month. Shortly after leaving, she discovers that her worst enemy — or the agent thereof, at least — is also chasing the same financial prize.
Plus? He’s kinda cute.
This story draws inspiration from a great big mash-up of a very old novel written by one of the progenitors of steampunk; a little taste of the Amazing Race; and with the added touch of a love story that goes wrong in every possible fashion. All the way around the world.
Back to the prosaic side of the process for a minute. This new story, while in no way being a sequel to FINDING FRASER, is nevertheless a bit of a spiritual sister. In FF, Emma Sheridan retraces the steps of a fictional character [Claire Beauchamps Randall Fraser] around Scotland, drawing inspiration from her favourite book. In 80 DAYS, Ramona Keene is vying for a position at a company — ExLibris Expeditions — that recreates famous journeys for book-lovers. Sistahs!
But here’s where we come to a very specific difference, at least for the humble author of both these novels.
I’d been to Scotland before I wrote Emma’s story.
Now, if you follow my blog with any kind of regularity, you’ll know how much I love to travel. ESPECIALLY when doing research. I’m just not a sitting-on-the-beach kinda girl. And I have been lucky enough —privileged enough — to have visited many, many amazing places on this beautiful planet we all call home.
I have never, however, been all the way around it. Nor have I been to many of the places Fogg, and in her pursuit of him, Romy, get to visit in their respective stories.
However that, my friend, is about to change, as I embark on the biggest solo adventure of my lifetime. I leave a week from today.
Now, when I started typing this post, I fully expected to spell out the entire itinerary, but… <insert evil chuckle here>
I’ve changed my mind.
I think, instead, with your indulgence, I’ll leave the points of call a surprise until I get there. I will say that, last month, while news of this new book still loitered under a veil of secrecy, I undertook the North American leg of this tour. [You may have, if you were paying attention, detected hints of this on my twitter feed!] Thus, there will be no North American stops on this particular circumnavigation, though there most assuredly will be in the story. And I should also add that while I will not visit every one of Fogg’s stops, there are a few extra surprises in store.
So. With the news of the trip out of the way, let’s address the question of ‘Why?’.
I am writer of fiction. Some might say I lie for a living. Why on earth would I need to travel around the world when I could just make it all up? After all, what is Google Maps even for?
The answer is simple. Every book I’ve ever written has been at least a partially set far from my home. And every chance I get, I run off to some of these faraway places, so that my stories can better reflect the truth of their settings. The scent of the air, the taste of the food, the feel of the ground beneath my feet — all of these things make it into my novels.
Maybe not such a liar, after all?
In any case, I’m off to do it again, and I plan to share the whole thing here. Or as much of it as I can, anyway. I do hope you’ll join me! And if you have any questions about the trip, or any suggestions as to what I should see or do, please share. I was mad-homesick on the North American leg of the trip, and that was only two weeks. This trip is going to be three times that long, away from home, and these guys.
To finish — care to share any guesses as to my stops on the North American leg of the tour, all pictured above? [With the exception of my three boys, who are seen here last fall, frolicking on their own happy trail in the wilds of British Columbia.]
First correct guesser [who wants one] will win a signed copy of Finding Fraser. I’ll be doing this with every post while I’m away, so be sure to spread the word. Will send the winning books out when I get home, mid-July.
In the meantime, I’d love it if you can keep me company!
*I so miss you, Douglas Adams…