Vacation, a great generator of book ideas

We agents are always looking for new book ideas; we look everywhere, read as much as we can, and often find them in some pretty unusual conversations.  When I go away on vacation, however, I try to veg out and am less on the hunt than usual.  But then, they are always around.

Over the last couple of weeks, my husband and I traveled throughout Israel and Jordan and had some incredible experiences.  Here are just a few, which may or may not ultimately spur me to come up with some new book concepts:

A trip to the Dead Sea and then a climb to the top of Masada where the last Jewish soldier committed suicide by throwing himself on his sword in order to avoid being enslaved by the Romans.  It was formerly thought that this was an act of heroism, but was it really?  Now the scholars might be changing their minds.

A stay at the incredible Kind David Hotel in Jerusalem where the famous and infamous have signed a walk of fame running down the main corridor of the lobby.  There, I run into friends I haven’t seen in over 20 years.

My first camel ride along the road leaving Jerusalem.

My first camel ride along the road leaving Jerusalem.

The incredible hotel we stayed at in Tiberius, the Scots Hotel which used to be a hospital and which has a long and colorful history.

The solitary walk, just the two of us with our luggage across the border from Israel to Jordan through “no man’s land.”

The amazing trek into Petra, the land of so many civilizations and the setting for Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Getting lost in Amman trying to find a restaurant and being literally walked all the way to where we needed to go by a lovely Palestinian gentleman.

And finally just before leaving our hotel to go back to the airport and home, being invited to partake at a Moslem wedding just because we were “there” and everyone was “welcome.”

I wonder, have some of your ideas for books come while on vacation.  What were your experiences and what ideas resulted from them?

9 Responses to Vacation, a great generator of book ideas

  1. Kerry Gans says:

    On my honeymoon in England, we were in Salisbury. As we walked past the ancient city wall, I noticed windows indicating that there was housing inside the wall – or at least attached to it in some way. I got to wondering what it would be like to live INSIDE a thick city wall, and slowly came up with THE GATEKEEPER’S DAUGHTER, which is still in outline form, but features not only a fortified city but a Stonehenge-like rock circle that used to protect the town but is now just a ruin.

    Going places is a great way to stir creativity, since it exposes you to settings and ideas outside your normal comfort zone.


  2. Kim says:

    This is a great question, and I thought it was ‘no,’ until I remembered a future project, a novel set in the archipelago of Chiloe in Chile, a very beautiful but unusual place with its own folklore that you find evidence of throughout the islands. I’m looking forward to starting it soon.

  3. Not on vacation, since it’s been so long I hardly remember what one is, but definitely from pictures of places, or documentaries, or whatever. Landscapes do a lot for me, whether they are sparse and open or crowded with ancient ruins.

  4. Ugh, We were supposed to go back to Egypt, with a side-trip to Jordan in early Spring, but things got a bit shaky there. Hopefully thinks will be ok next spring.

    I rather like travel. Been all over Europe, to Thailand, and so on. I’ve chosen James Bond as my tour guide, in fact. http://www.roxanneskelly.com/2011/08/im-followin-james-bond.html

    Each place I travel gives me a new perspective on the places I’ve been before, and bit by bit, I’m coming to know the world. All this travel really helps generate ideas for stories, as well. Only problem, when I’m out and about, I want to explore, not sit down and write…oh well.

  5. Gilbert J. Avila says:

    Erm…Petra was the setting for the final scenes in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

  6. D. A. Hosek says:

    I try to take notes on places that I go for future reference. I’m actually using notes from a Christmas visit to Mexico to visit the in-laws in fleshing out details in my current novel. I also work on getting notes from my more quotidian experiences as well.

  7. Jacoba Urist says:

    Just had to chime in Jane. When I returned from a summer in Israel, age 14, I wrote a “novella” about Masada. After my climb and for about four months into the school year, I was obsessed with plotting and characters, all loosely based on the historical narrative…My parents kept it and I have to say, 20 years later, it’s still inspiring to go back and see what inspired me.

  8. Ellis Shuman says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to Israel! (My home) I have also traveled in Jordan and Petra is absolutely amazing.

    I lived for two years in Bulgaria on a work contract, and that extended stay in an unusual culture has provided the background and inspiration for my work in progress, a novel set in Bulgaria.

  9. Glad to be one of the visitors on this amazing website : D.

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