May 15, 2019 @ 10:39 AM · Helen at the Helm

Thank you, Jessica, for your comment on Where the Waratahs Bloom. I am glad you enjoyed it. 

I am currently in Florida enjoying the warm weather, fun parks and soon NASCAR racing up in North Carolina. Broadening horizons provides so much content to write about, and I am penning my journey for a new Road Trip book, this being my fourth road trip across America, mostly to research locations for novels I have on the go and to get more story ideas.  

This leads me to a very good piece of advice, which I learnt from my first American road trip ... I was writing a couple of novels set in America, one about a murder centred around rodeos and was going to set it in Texas. My trip took me down into Arizona, where I spent a few days on a working cattle ranch, visited a rodeo ground, and then drove down to the bottom of Texas and up through to Arkansas. Doing this, I very quickly realised the Texas landscape was totally wrong for the plot, so the story is now set in Arizona. As much as you can allow a location to rely on your imagination there is absolutely nothing better than visiting the location to get a sense of atmosphere and what it is really like. I will never forget that Texas air smells like oil - I kept pulling over to check the RV because I thought it had developed an oil problem, the smell was so potent.  Until you stand overlooking Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory you can't imagine the smog that overlays the city (a location for my novel Mel Bailey's Men) nor how stunningly beautiful the Blue Ridge Parkway is (a location in my soon to be released novel Dark Secrets).

Where I once believed you could fabricate your locations and internet research would be enough, I now believe you need to actually stand in the dirt and breathe the air to really write your locations with an air of authenticity. My writing has certainly forced me to broaden those horizons and nipped me hard with the travel bug. 

I hope you all get the chance to do the same.