Monday, May 3, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Calendar...

Okay, confession time. I forgot I was supposed to blog today.
I got my little reminder, but somehow it slipped past me just the same.
It's been one of those months. We were traveling, then once home, the mad catch-up begins.
I suppose one of the advantages of living on a small island is that we do travel quite a bit. We're only an hour away by plane from New York's JFK, and you can pretty much get anywhere in the world from there. And I've noticed airfares have been dropping lately, which is a good thing.
To be honest though, I'm not much of a traveler. I do love visiting new places, I just don't enjoy getting there.
I hate to fly, and I'm not a fan of jet lag. But after all is said and done, I realize how fortunate I am to be able to travel and see the world if I want to. Many people are not able to do this.
That's why I think International Fiction is so important. To be able to give somebody even a glimpse of life in another country is a gift not to be taken for granted. When I think of the Thorn Birds I can still visualize Australia, or any of Wilbur Smith's books give me a feel for Africa, not to say I want to go and face down a lion mind you! But then I got to thinking - am I able to visualize these places easily because I have traveled? I've never been to Australia, but I have been to Africa.
Given that I don't have an awful lot to say today, I'd like to turn the blog over to you and ask some questions, because as someone who has written and supports stories that take place in foreign lands, I wonder what you think?
Have you read books about countries that you've never been to and felt like you've stepped off the plane? Can you see, smell, taste it all in your mind? Does it make you want to go there? What kind of stories would you like to see in the future in the genre of International Fiction?
And on the flip side, if you've never read these kinds of books, why not?
Let the sharing begin!
Catherine West writes contemporary romance and women's fiction. She enjoys life on Bermuda with her husband, two almost grown children, and one rambunctious Border Collie. When she's not writing you can find her in the garden or out on the Agility course, pretending she knows what she's doing!
Catherine's work is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Wordserve Literary. You can check in with her anytime at her website!


  1. Anyone remember Essie Summers? She was a Harlequin author way back when who set her stories in New Zealand. I've never been to NZ but if I ever visit, I expect rugged mountains, tumbling rivers, unpredictable floods and huge sheep stations, based on her books. : )
    I've another question. Since we can all visit the world via television, has anyone visited a place that turned out to NOT be like the travelogue seen on PBS?

  2. Interesting point, Alice. We get lots of visual information about many places from PBS (and its variations around the world.) I think what I look for in a book set in another country is the different ways of thinking. I don't enjoy a book about a tourist who skims the surface as much as one that really delves into the real people who live there and how they are similar and different from me. Jeannette did such a great job in Veiled Freedom of bringing alive both expats and Afghans, believers and nonbelievers. I could understand why they acted as they did in their worldview.

  3. That takes a lot of research though, to really get into that worldview. I mean, how do we do that if we can't actually physically get to that place? Are interviews and online research enough for accuracy?

  4. I'm with Leanne. I think it's imperative to understand the world view of others. I mean, how am I supposed to love someone who's just committed an horrendous atrocity (but I have to try)?

    But I also understand Cathy's question in response. I think we are lucky these days in that a lot of (good)research is already done for us - by journalists e.g., who can and do travel extensively and remotely. Ann