Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why Authors Should Travel

With: Zara West

Congratulations to "Chris B.", the winner in Zara's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

Hi everyone! Please comment at the end of the post with your name and contact information for your chance to win an electronic copy, my newly released romance suspense BENEATH THE SKIN.

Now come travel with me…

In this day and age, it is easy to go online and find maps, photos, videos, and detailed descriptions of just about every place on earth. Using Google Earth, you can drive down streets, stop and stare into store windows, and even fly like a bird over roofs of the cities and the towns where your story is set and peer into peoples’ backyards. You can find menus for local restaurants and recipes for regional dishes. Sometimes you might wonder if it is worth the hassle of waiting in security lines, staying in hotels, and eating strange foods just to experience the setting of the novel you are writing, especially if it’s a romantic suspense, and all the action is focused on the survival of the two main characters.

I am going to tell you that yes—it is definitely worth the effort. There are three major things missing from the digital experience—smells and sounds and tastes. Only by experiencing these things up close and personal can you add the sensory elements to your stories that make them come alive for your reader who may never have been to that locale and who are relying on you to transport them from their everyday existence to some place new and exotic.

In addition, during your travels, you will pick up nuances of language and gesture that add depth to your characters. You will try foods cooked using traditional ingredients and utensils. You will breathe in the scents of local plants and flowers and hear the hubbub of conversation, street traffic, and sounds of animal life found only in that place. Your skin will remember the changes in temperature and your feet will imprint the textures of the pavement, stone, and soil under your feet.

In my newly released romantic suspense Beneath the Skin, I have drawn not only on the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg where I was born, but also on my extensive travels in Greece. My hero, Aristides Stavros, is a multi-billionaire owner of a Greek island, modeled on an an incredibly beautiful isolated island I visited during one of my many trips to Greece.

Based on my experiences living in Greece, I have woven elements of village life from chickens to hand-milling  grain into Aristides‘ backstory and included common sayings as well as bits of the Greek language and familiar gestures to create his unique personality. This level of detail would have been impossible if I had never been to a Greek island.
So when deciding whether it’s worth hopping on that bus, getting on that train, boarding the next plane, or slipping behind the steering wheel, say yes and enrich your writing and your reader’s experience tenfold!


Ex-Olympic wrestler and reclusive billionaire artist Aristides Stavros has one mission—to rescue his sister, a popular tattoo artist from the old enemy who has kidnapped her. But at every turn, he is confronted by anthropologist Melissa Dermot. Is she just an innocent girl in over her head, or is she working for the international crime boss holding his sister? 

Only one thing is certain--when Ari holds the beautiful Asian-American in his arms, questions of guilt and innocence fade against an undeniable fiery attraction. But can their wild passionate love survive the tangled web of long-buried secrets, intentional deceit, and murderous revenge that lie just beneath the surface?

Please comment at the end of the post with your name and contact information for your chance to win an electronic copy of Beneath the Skin, first in the Skin Quartet Series

Author Bio:
Zara West loves all things dark, scary, and heart-stopping as long as they lead to true love. Born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Zara spends winters in New York where the streets hum with life, summers in the Maritimes where the sea can be cruel, and the rest of the year anywhere inspiration for tales of suspense, mystery, and romance are plentiful.
An accomplished artist by training and passion, she brings a love of art to every book she writes. When not marooned on an island or chasing after Greek shepherds, Zara tends her organic herb garden, collects hats and cats, and whips up ethnic dishes for friends and family.
A member of RWA, Zara is an award-winning author of both fiction and non-fiction. This is her first romantic suspense.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST June 24th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.          

Check out more giveaways on the JRS SHOWCASE


  1. The book sounds great. Huge fan of Wrestling. Loved high school, college and Olympic. I also love to travel whenever possible. Love driving and flying both when taking vacation. Best vacation was to Nashville during CMA Fest about 5 years ago.

  2. I love to travel. Currently, I am only able to do day or weekend trips which limits the distance I can travel.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

  3. Don't measure travel by distance. Even short trips to places not familiar to you will enrich your writing. Try a new restaurant. Explore a new park. Visit an unfamiliar store. All these experiences will add depth to your reading and writing.

  4. I was just in Nashville on Memorial Weekend. Love the music and the gorgeous flowers.

  5. interesting post

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  6. Digital can't beat the real deal.


  7. Yes, i agree - traveling broadens a person in ways staying at home researching can't. And meeting new people is a big part of the experience, too! I think it's easier to understand how we are all alike, to recognize our human emotions when we encounter others in a new way. Best wishes with your book release!

  8. I agree that a writer needs to experience "life away from home". Great blog. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Great post! I agree just mingling with anyone in a different space is inspiring especially for writers. We absorb every detail.

  10. Actually going to places also keeps writers from making crucial mistakes. You really need to know a place if you're going to set a book there.

  11. I got roadblocked on your trip to Greece, a place I'd love to see!!! But I agree--travel gives us new perspectives!


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