Tuesday, December 6, 2011
From Road Trip to Fiction: Writing Carrie Goes Off the Map by Phillipa Ashley (and GIVEAWAY!)
From road trip to fiction, what about your research trip made it into the book and what was left behind?
I think the old ’iceberg rule’ holds true. You only really use a tiny fraction of the research you’ve done in the finished book. Even with a contemporary novel, it’s very easy to get carried away with dumping knowledge into scenes and that holds up the pace of the story for the reader.
On saying that, my road trip in South West England in a vintage VW campervan trip did made a big difference to the book, both in terms of atmosphere and plot. I’m convinced that if I hadn’t actually sampled such a journey myself, the book would not be the one it is now.
I’d actually started the draft before I went on the trip and had a good grip on the characters and an idea of where the plot was heading, but I knew it would be so much better and more fun to actually experience the campervan lifestyle.
VW campervans have iconic status in the UK. You see them rattling down the motorway, adorned with bright colours and surfboards on the roof, heading for the beaches of Devon and Cornwall. I chose a VW van for Carrie’s journey because it was quirky and individual, like the characters. The van also seemed the perfect vehicle for bringing Carrie up close and personal with her own emotions, challenges and goals in life - and of course, with the gorgeous but infuriating Dr Matt Landor.
I’d been camping with my husband as a student, but this trip was to be the first time we’d stayed in such a small vehicle without technology, home comforts or a bathroom. Not a problem, I thought, I can rough it and camping out under the stars always looks so idyllic...
There was only once slight concern. Carrie and Matt travel in high summer but we needed to take the trip in March!
In early spring, the UK can be reasonably mild, with daffodils are in bloom and lambs in the fields but it can just as well bring thick snow, gales and lashing rain! Plus we were heading for the north coast of Devon, to a stunning campsite that was exposed to the full force of nature. In the end it was fine every day – but boy, was it cold. We definitely had to snuggle up to keep warm, with only the canvas roof between us and the elements.
I thought carefully about Carrie’s itinerary because it had to reflect her emotional journey after she loses everything – her fiancé, her job, her home, self esteem and belief in happy endings. So she starts off by throwing away her engagement ring, feeling bitter and cynical and with no real sense of direction.
In our five day trip, there wasn’t time to do the whole route that Matt and Carrie take, but I had already been to the other main novel locations including St Ives, an old fishing village in Cornwall and the Minack Theatre, an amazing open air amphitheatre carved out of the cliffs. I used North Devon, where we took the campervan, the first place that Carrie and Matt stop. It’s a big surfers’ hang out as you’ll find out from the novel.
Carrie Goes Off The Map
By: Phillipa Ashley
Published: 06 Dec 2011
"Wonderfully romantic and funny... fulfills all the best fantasies, including a gorgeous, humanitarian hero and a camper van!"
-Katie Fforde, UK Best Selling Author of Love Letters
Carrie lets her best friend talk her into a scenic European road trip as the perfect getaway from a nasty breakup. Unexpectedly along for the ride is the gorgeous Matt Landor, MD, who sorely tests Carrie's determination to give up men altogether. Careening through the English countryside, these two mismatched but perfectly attuned lonely hearts find themselves in hot pursuit of adventure and in entirely uncharted territory.
Sourcebooks is going to send one lucky winner a copy of Carrie Goes Off the Map by Phillipa Ashley.
If you would like to win a copy of Carrie Goes Off the Map please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the novel or this guest blog.
As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.
For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.
I will be using random.org (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.
This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).
No P.O. Boxes.
The deadline for entry is midnight, Friday December 23rd.