Today, I'd like to welcome Rusty Rhoad, who has written about a road trip, with an Arthurian twist. I don't know about you, but I had to learn more.
Return from Avalon (and Points West) is an adventure that starts in San Francisco as a simple see-the-USA road trip. Described in a series of letters from Arnie Penders, mild-mannered used book seller, to his ex-wife.
Of course the story isn’t about the road trip—it’s about a mystical journey away from reality that ends up smack in the middle of the Arthurian legend. But still, it takes place on a road trip that goes through a lot of places that I’ve never been to.
Now everyone knows that the best way to research a road trip is to just take off on one. Explore all the places you’re going to write about, then write it off your income tax. But I was working as a chemical engineer and writing over lunch every day (you’d be amazed at how much you can accomplish if you spend one dedicated hour a day at it). So . . . how do you research a road trip from the (dis)comfort of your own office?
I bought a road atlas, highlighted a route though lots of towns with fun names or symbols denoting places of interest. Then as my hero and I travelled, I allocated a couple of half hour sessions each week taking an Internet road tour of those places.
Arnie is a witty, sarcastic observer of life; the object was to give him interesting and fun things to comment on. So of course I ended up with about 50 times more colorful details than I could possibly use. The world is full of amazing things.
The journey ends up at Hay-on-Wye in Wales. A fascinating place, the original “book town.” Dozens of used book stores. After the 1st draft was finished, I had the opportunity to visit Hay-on-Wye while on a business trip. Oops. It was absolutely nothing like the impression I’d gotten from the Internet. Some serious rewriting was required.
So now I have it on my bucket list to make the journey for real. Maybe if the book sells a million copies, I can market it as a summer vacation getaway. “Come travel Arnie’s route from San Francisco to Avalon.” You’d sign up, wouldn’t you?