Note: In my last blog, I promised to write more about my experiences as a fairly new member of Book View Café, but I’m going to wait a bit to revisit that topic. An upcoming interview of several BVC members will cover a lot of that ground, so I’ll let the others speak first.
On to some mementos of my travels, which I’ve been thinking about as the countdown starts for release day of my BVC novel The Ariadne Connection. The near-future thriller is set in the Greek islands and mainland, where I spent four months backpacking and inhaling the magical atmosphere some years ago. The resonance of place has always been essential to my writing, and Greece is one of those special places that soaks into a writer’s soul and is never forgotten.
As novelist John Sandford said recently in a Writer’s Digest interview, “What you want is a specific location, because all places have idiosyncrasies, and putting the idiosyncrasies in the book makes the scene more tactile and real.” When we’re reading, we want to be immersed in the experience with all our senses, and I love being transported to new and exotic locales through sensory involvement.
I’ve saved a few special objects from my far-flung travels, and when I look at them and touch them, I swear I can feel the essence of place still inhabiting them. Or maybe they simply trigger visceral memories and inspire my writing.
One of my favorite treasures is this antique amber necklace I found in a little hole-in-the-wall jewelry shop on the north coast of Crete. When I wear it I remember my younger self hiking the rocky shorelines and diving into the bracing, clear purple-blue sea, or scrambling like one of the ubiquitous rascally goats along steep mountain trails to stumble onto abandoned ancient ruins where I could pitch my tent and settle in to listen for whispers from long ago. The necklace helps ground me to that essence of place and stay true to its spirit when I set a scene there.
As anyone who’s travelled in Greece can attest, you can hardly escape the presence of the old gods and myths. I did my best to invoke that presence in my novel, treading the lonely labyrinths of some of the fabled 99 cities of Crete as well as visiting the more well-known ruins and museums. One of my favorite small statues in the National Archeological Museum of Athens is this one of a jaunty satyr, and I have a replica that reminds me of the irrepressible Greek spirit. He seems to cheer me on in my creative efforts.
So I’ll don my necklace and raise a glass of retsina to the old gods and goddesses, after spilling a libation on the ground for luck as they did on Crete. “Chairete!” (Rejoice!)
Sara’s newest novel from Book View Cafe will be released in print and ebook on March 10: THE ARIADNE CONNECTION. It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?” The novel has received a CYGNUS Speculative Fiction Award.