I’m so excited to have Internationally Bestselling Author Shana Gray with us today! Shana is one of our past retreaters and an author with a serious wanderlust bug. Read on for how she uses a combo of writing travel and research to write compelling stories and settings with lively sensory details!
Writing and Traveling
by Shana Gray
I’m thrilled to be here on the Cruising Writers blog. For a few reasons. First I was on a fabulous writing retreat with Christina, Julie and the gang last April at a to-die-for chateau in South of France. I mean really!! I can’t believe what a fabulous time we had, what a well organized event it was, and how much I learned. Plus I’ve made some fast friendships with the other authors.
Traveling is something I absolutely love. Whether it be for pleasure, research purposes (which I always try to do so I can write off a little bit of the trip), vacation, or simply just to get away. Vanish. Poof. Gone. J
Over the years I’ve been in many places, spanning from Fiji, Cook Islands, Tahiti, Hawaii (twice), across America & Canada, through the Caribbean, the UK (Wales and England), and Europe, including Poland twice, France and Spain.
My most recent trip was to British Columbia. I went over the Christmas holiday to visit my son who is now one of the chefs at the Fairmont Hotel in Whistler. I loved that trip for many reasons. Personally, so I could see and hug my 27 year old baby, professionally for research of course, and to see a part of my country that I had never been to before. Yes, I’m Canadian. The farthest west I’ve ever been in Canada was to Banff and the farthest east just this past September to the Maritimes, where I visited Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Canada is a beautiful country and there’s so much of her to see. I even came up with a murder mystery when we were on the rocks at Peggy’s Cove.
It’s a big wide world out there, so take every opportunity you can to travel. The experience broadens you.
I’ve always told my boys it’s a big wide world out there and to take every opportunity you can to travel. The experience broadens you. Helps you see things from a different perspective. Allows you an insight into how other people live, cultures, and the amazing differences we all have. It rounds you out and helps give you an understanding to the world around you.
So, how do you bring all these travel experiences into your writing?
It can be such an information overload, and how do you keep track of it all? You tell yourself “oh, I’ll never forget that!” Then boom, you do. For me, I take lots and lots of pictures and videos. I keep a little journal, and do a daily post to Facebook (mainly on my real name FB page, so I don’t swamp my author page) and comment so I can refer back. I record the temperatures, the lighting, smells, sounds, the tastes of the food and booze which obviously varies by destination. I’m a taster, and will try most anything; this also brings depth to your work. You can clearly describe the sensations in your mouth, the blush of the wind on your skin, smells that ignite the memory. I also make sure to remember bad things that happen as well, because bad things do crop up. All the info will build the foundation for a book.
I have two books set in Hawaii, I’ve being twice and just love Hawaii. My second Harlequin Blaze, A Cowboy in Paradise, is set on the Big Island. I’d never been to the Big Island, and its terrain and weather is vastly different to the rest of Hawaii, even on the island itself is a huge variation! So how did I go about doing research for that based on the fact that I’ve never been? Online research, and I talked to a woman, she’s since become my friend, who lives there. She gave me all sorts of extremely valuable information that if I had not applied to the book then it would have been way off base. People that live on the big island would immediately see the problems and it would have devalued my story. I also contacted the hotel where a portion of the book is set for information from them about the setting. I think it came together quite nicely. My newest release Working Girl is set in New York City and a fictional spot out on the coast. I have some big news coming, where the settings will be in some wonderful, well known places! So really, any place has the possibility to host your story!
The internet is a wonderful thing and it can also be a horrible thing as we’ve seen over the recent times. But if we just think of it as wonderful and a tool that can help you research places you’ve never been to, help you escape and dive in to foreign countries, you can almost immerse yourself in every aspect except the physical kind. And that’s where your creativity and imagination steps in.
I’d be happy to chat with anyone that would like to discuss research and traipsing all around these wonderful places our world has to offer. Feel free to contact me.
Now, after writing this I’ve decided what another great job would be. Aside from being a romance writer of course… a travel writer! I wonder if there’s a way for me to combine both? Hmmm.
About Shana Gray
Shana Gray first traveled with Cruising Writers to France in April 2017. She has written contemporary erotic romances for multiple publishers including Harlequin Blaze, Random House, and Headline. Her international bestseller, Working Girl, has been translated into six languages. Shana’s passion is to enjoy life! She lives in Ontario, but loves to travel and see the world, be with family, friends and experience the beauty that surrounds us. Shana is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.
Visit her online at shanagray.com
Facebook: Shana Gray
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A sexy seven-day job interview. Seven irresistible interviewers. Who will she choose at the end of the week?
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Tess has been determined to get revenge for her father, ever since he was falsely accused of misusing company funds and unceremoniously let go from Diamond Enterprises. Applying to be Executive Assistant to the elusive, elderly head of the company, Mr King, seems the ideal way to get inside the firm and clear his name.
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