Skip to main content

Guest Post: Claire Bartlett Talks Travel and Writing


Today's post is a little different. It's my first post by a guest writer! Claire Bartlett, author of We Rule The Night, out everywhere now. She talks about being a life long traveler and how that has impacted her and her writing. It's a lovely piece that I can't wait for you to read. So, without further ado...


There are two things I love to do in this world: go places and write things.

It’s not always easy to travel. It’s an expensive hobby between booking tickets and accommodations, and taking the time off work to go. But if you have the chance to travel outside your home country, do it. If you ever have the chance to live abroad, I recommend it even more.

Reading gets compared to traveling a lot. A good book should transport you, right? Well, I think that if a good book has to transport you, a good author should understand the space they’re writing about. How it smells, how the ground feels underfoot. What kind of birds call out in the daytime, and how people gather to relax at night. The world smells different depending on whether it’s snowed or rained - or maybe it hasn’t precipitated at all and we’re long overdue! The magpies that scold me from my parents’ back yard in Colorado are so different from the seagulls that scream on Copenhagen’s harbor. 

Side note - those seagulls are the size of small dogs, and nothing is more terrifying than watching one waddle toward you, full of intent, as you stand with your half-eaten pizza slice.

Travel broadened my understand of, well, everything. It certainly helped my worldbuilding technique. Until I lived in Switzerland, I didn’t realize how much the southern part differed from, well, everywhere else. Who would imagine palm trees growing cheerily in Switzerland? The mountains that surrounded me there were massively different from the Rockies, which were massively different from the Brecon Beacons of Wales, where I lived next, which were massively different from the swampy flatlands of Denmark. Out of the dozens of castles I’ve visited around Europe, I can safely say that no two are the same. And when evoking a setting or feeling in my writing, I consider my geography, the places I’ve been, the ways I can put my characters in a space that feels real. 

Travel brings you into contact with new cultures and new people, and if you are respectful and pay close attention, you can learn volumes about building your characters. This isn’t about grabbing cultures and appropriating for the sake of diversity or distinction between characters! Look at people as they are - they way they speak, how they’re different in their second versus their first language (you can often get an idea, even if you don’t share that language), how they react to conflict, and the different interests they have! I feel that a lot of characters have lopsided interests in books, whereas people in real life will surprise you with their varied hobbies and knowledge. Meeting people who have been shaped by different cultural forces has been an important part of considering well-rounded characters for me.

Lastly, travel has given me a sense of the deeper things. The wonder of a new and dramatic landscape. The feeling of insignificance under a bright Milky Way. The excitement of setting out on an adventure and the yearning for home when you sit somewhere cold and lonely and think of what your friends and family are doing without you. Evoking emotion is the prime goal in writing, and while I’m not saying you should get abandoned on a desert island to write your desert island novel, you should seek new experiences. 

Not only will you have more to write about, but you’ll have done something really cool.


If you'd like to buy or learn more about We Rule The Night, you can find it here. (Affiliate link)


Links of Interest:
Izzy + Tristan: Review Here
Trigger Warnings Show Empathy: Here
Serious Moonlight: Review Here
This Book Is Not Yet Rated:Review Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn Cover Reveal

Today is a very special post because I get to show you all a first glimpse at More Than Maybe, Erin Hahn's sophomore novel. I've been excited about this book since I finished You'd Be Mine, and I'm so happy to finally be able to see the cover and learn a little more about Luke and Vada. Before I get to telling you about MTM and showing off the cover, I just wanted to talk a little bit about how I first found and fell for Erin's work. I randomly stumbled upon You'd BeMine on Netgalley and decided to give it a try, and from the second I read the first page and heard Clay's voice so clearly in my head, I was hooked. After I finished reading, I wanted to know more about the book, the characters, and how the story came to be, so I reached out to Erin, and she was sweet enough to agree to do an interview. I know I'm not supposed to pick favorites, but her thoughtful answers and complete sincerity makes my interview with her one of my favorites of them all. I…

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Permanent Record Review

Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi
Overview: Pablo's life is a mess. He works at a bodega or a "health food store" depending on who you ask, which is about the only thing he has going right at the moment. He dropped out of NYU, though that debt still follows him, along with the credit card bills from some ill advised buying sprees. He has a good group of friends that he lives with and a family that genuinely does love him, but he has no clue what he's doing. What's the end goal? Who knows... Overall: 5 

General Thoughts: This is not a normal part of my reviews, but I had some things I wanted to say that don't necessarily fit anywhere else. 1) I love this book, but I feel like it's for a very particular set of readers. You MUST be a lover of character driven stories because a lot of this book is exploring Pablo's mind. I love that. I honestly don't care about plot if I love your characters, but I know a lot of people aren't like that, so fair warni…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Goodbye, Perfect

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard (January 29)
Overview: Eden has always been the irresponsible one with poor grades, a loud mouth, and a general air of irresponsibility, but it's her friend Bonnie that takes over the headlines of every major news station in the UK. Bonnie disappears with her ,music teacher and parent boyfriend, Jack Cohen, better known to everyone at Kett as Mr. Cohen. Eden can't believe that a friend would do this, but, suddenly, when she gets a WhatsApp message from Bonnie, she's clued in to their runaway mission. Pressured by her family, Bonnie's, and the cops, Eden refuses to tell them what they know because she made a promise to her best friend. Overall: 3.5 

Characters: 3 Okay, I guess I can see some of the thinking behind these characters, but it wasn't articulated very well. Eden refuses to tell on her friend even though she knows how wrong and serious the situation is. I can see making a promise and being hesitant, but I can't see a sixt…

Into YA with Laura Silverman

Today I'm posting an interview that has been a long time in the making. I reached out to do this interview with Laura before You Asked For Perfect came out, and then things got busy so it's been a minute since doing this interview, but YAFP is one of my favorite books all year. If you haven't read the book, it is an absolute must read for anyone involved in high school, heading to senior year, in education, or is a parent. I've never read a book where I yelled "That's me!" so many times. Here's my review to catch up so that you can have a little context for that. 

1. Where did you get the inspiration to write a book about the reality students today face? I love how you delve into the intense pressure to take as many APs as possible, and, as the title implies, to be perfect.
I went to an academically competitive high school where we were encouraged to take as many AP classes as possible and to sign up for extra electives, which led to things like zero pe…

You'd Be Mine Review

You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn (April 2) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
Overview: Clay Coolidge is the new hotshot in country music, but his tour hinges on him signing his opening act, Annie Mathers. While they doubt Clay can keep his cool on the summer tour highlife, they know that Annie has a promising career ahead of her because she's the product of two of countries hottest, and most infamous, country superstars. Even though the door starts as a business deal, it winds up being a journey of self discovery and a love story of its own. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 Annie and Clay are more than just celebrities or musicians. They're real people, and, while you get a glimpse at their larger than life sides, Hahn never lets you get swept up in the glitz and the glamor. They are two brand new adults in a brand new world, still mourning losses from their old one.
Annie has been trying to outrun her parents, and their famous double suicide, since she found their b…

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner Lianne Oelke (420 pages)
Overview: Jane wants to forget the past. Forget the high school that expelled her. Forget the people that watched her fall from grace. Forget her family who thinks that prayer is the answer to everything. Facing community college at Elbow River as a last resort graduation option, she signs up to be on House of Orange, a new web reality show, to solve her housing problem. Though she knows to expect the unexpected, House of Orange and its inhabitants test Jane in ways she never imagined. Maybe the year won't be as bad as she imagined. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I LOVE Jane. There are very few main characters I can say that I appreciated more. Her sarcasm, dry humor, and outlook on life echoed my own thoughts, and I loved how she was so introspective. It is fascinating to listen to Jane work through her own thoughts and recognize her behaviors as masks for other feelings. I also thought that Oelke did a wonderful job with her depiction of Ja…

Spin

Spin by Lamar Giles (387 pages)
Overview: Fuse and Kya have lost their best friend. #ParSecNation lost their leader, and the Dark Nation has decided to do something about it, even if it means terrorizing those who were closest of her. DJ Paris Secord, or ParSec was murdered at a warehouse she planned to throw a party in. Fuse and Kya found her when they'd come to make amends for different issues they'd rather the public, or the cops, not know about. But they both want to see Paris's killer caught, so they might have to overcome their differences and work together. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 Fuse, Paris, and Kya all get a turn to narrate the story which I enjoyed. They each have their own voices and personalities that really shine through and bring a different angle to the same storyline.
Fuse is rich. Her dad runs a successful marketing company, and she shifted what she learned from him to making Paris's music and brand famous. She helped Paris climb the ranks, but, at t…

Heroine

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis (417 pages) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
TW: Depiction of opioid addiction 
Overview: Mickey has it all. She's on the best softball team in the county, she has a supportive best friend, and, even though her parents have recently gone through a divorce, they both want to support her. And then she and Carolina get into a car accident on the way home to watch Netflix and eat pizza, a regular Friday night. Mickey's leg is all but torn out of her body, and her hip has to be put together with screws. Carolina, the school's near famous pitcher, nearly destroys her arm. As the girls fight to be ready in time to play their senior softball season, Mickey falls down a dangerous road, slowly upping her intake of pain pills to get through the day and to quicken her pace through physical therapy. Even as she tells herself that it's just for softball, just for her team, just for her parents, as she gets further in and her dependency i…