Travel: A Trigger For The Imagination—And A Giveaway

Denise M. Hartman has worked as a journalist, a freelance writer, a graphic designer and a video producer. Denise is a member of Sisters in Crime and is past president of a local chapter in her hometown of Kansas City. She lives in Madrid, Spain, now and just released her first novel, Killed in Kruger. You can find the ebook or her short stories on Amazon, coming soon to Nook, Smashwords, and Print on Demand.

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Creativity is often fed through new sights and new sounds for me. My novel, Killed in Kruger, just released, was born out of a trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe. At the time I was working for a nature photographer who was going to spend 16 weeks traveling back and forth across the entire southern tip of Africa. For a couple weeks I joined in and we traveled Kruger National Park in South Africa and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe on a photo safari.

The new surroundings of travel seem to put my creativity on tenterhooks and I see the world through new glasses. One of the scariest things I experienced on that trip was the border crossing between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Without thinking, I put down that I was a writer for my profession. I got a stern talking to about visas. They gave me special papers and stamps that I was to surrender when I left the country. Yikes! I was told I couldn’t talk to anyone while I was there. No one?? What about waiters or shopkeepers? Well, I kept that to myself and was suitably scared. It wasn’t a journalistic trip anyway, but we did visit with some families and game preserve people. Oddly, my scariest moment didn’t end up making it into the fictionalized story, but some other scary imaginings grew from it.

What is it about travel that gets those juices flowing? Right now, I live in Madrid because of my day job and most days I just get up and go to my office 3 miles away, so there’s not much to stimulate my senses. The days I actually have to go into the center of the city and I see the tourists, the locals, the beggars, I see characters. I wish my eyes were a video camera so I could remember all the unusual things I see and describe them later. I think it is just stepping out of your norm that makes you look around and take notice. It’s also something you can do in “normal” life, but it takes a bit of practice to stop the frenzy and pay attention.

I do always carry paper with me to jot things down, but when I travel everything seems so rich it’s hard to capture just a few lines to remember  so many faces. I recently was in an airport and I saw a man who looked just like a character I’d envisioned in the Killed in Kruger book. Not a main character, just a skeevy secondary fellow named Chuck from the later half of the book. On the one hand, I wanted to walk over closer and see if the man in the airport also talked like Chuck, but knowing the way he was in the book I didn’t want to get involved. Then I got tickled with myself thinking this.

I think reading is a lot like travel. It does the same thing for my imagination feeding it with new sights and sounds and takes me to worlds that are a lot of trouble to get to on international flights, trains, buses etc. What feeds your imagination and stimulates your creativity? Where will your reading take you today?

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