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Friday, September 14, 2012
12:00 AM | Posted by Maureen | | Edit Post
I just got back from an Alaskan cruise…well, I got home about a week ago. In fact, last Friday, I was in Skagway, which translates as ‘home of the North wind.’
It was windy there, especially by the dock where the Star Princess tied up. Cold, harsh, wind. But the sky was clear and the little town was charming once we got passed the typical cruise line expensive gemstone shops.
You find those in any port the cruise ships dock at. I’m pretty sure the cruise lines have some stake in these places, but like Aaron, the gentle guy who led the tour I took later that day basically said, “Merchants have always taken advantage of those who step off the ships this part of the world. It’s just part of the gig.”
And he is right. Skagway was the gateway to the Klondike gold rush and most of the money was made in town, from those passing through.
Living in California, I’m aware of gold rush history, but it’s different in Alaska. I think it’s because I grew up reading Jack London and fell in love with the struggle and beauty of living in Alaska. Gazing upward at the massive rocky sides that surround Skagway is humbling and to consider what it must have been like to know you had to get over those before you arrived at the gold fields? Man.
Now, I went on this cruise hoping for some renewal of my inner writer. Some story ideas, a sense of renewal to push me forward. In Skagway, I found something. I’m not sure what it was, really. I think it came from the tour of Jewell Gardens and Garden City Glassworks. And Aaron.
I got his jokes. I might have been the only one on the tour who did. When he said ‘ROUS’ in reference to the size of rhubarb that grew in the garden, I got it. (You don’t? Well, think Princess Bride and rodents of unusual size.) He wandered before us in the garden, talking about the plants, what they were good for, inviting us to touch them, taste them…then he turned us over to the glassblowers and I sat so close I could feel the heat off oven every time it was opened.
Several times I found myself walking next to Aaron. His wife worked as a tour guide at the Red Onion Saloon, in town. She gave tours of the renowned former brothel and this was the year the two of them were staying in Skagway for the winter instead of returning to Southern California once the cruise ship season was over.
I envied him. Oh, not the cold and the snow and all of that. But the sense of a tiny community, finding what entertainment they could, surrounded by an extremely hostile environment during a long winter. But oh! The simplicity! The low demanding holiday expectations! The hours of quiet…
Aaron made me think about a character I’d created for my dystopian urban fantasy. Dave, the barista. And a story I had in my head…Dave’s story, started to jell. They two look nothing alike, but the humor, the quiet intelligence, the desire for a simpler life…it started to fall into place.
I hadn’t planned on Dave’s story until I’d written book two, but I think it’s going to leapfrog ahead because it’s right there, dancing in the brain. Dave, the son of two phenomenally intelligent scientists, who rebels and wanders, working Renaissance Faires, organic gardens, playing tour guide at historical sites, dressing in costumes…working as a barista when nothing is available on the circuit. Until the world changes and his parents, who wanted to keep him safe, made sure he survived. But now he has to find his way to where they are, to ask why and demand answers…
At first, I thought I’d have him in Skagway and travel by foot to Yosemite, but later I thought… ‘that is a bit much.’ So, I moved him to Seattle. But I may decide Skagway is doable. I so want to include that little gem…
Am I writing? Not yet. I am brainstorming and making notes. Mom managed to end up in the ER while all of her kids were on the cruise. She’s back home and I’m here, with her, until she’s ready to be on her own. It’s hard to get beyond the day-to-day and work on the actual story, but I’m close…
I know we’ve chatted about stuck times the last few months, and getting it moving again. I believe I’ve found my nudge and thank god, it didn’t require I get a massive kick in the ass.
Skagway was good, cold, but good.
So, do I start this story in Skagway or Seattle? Thoughts? And I need a romantic interest for him…a lost love and an eventual discovery of new love…I was thinking a scientist, just to screw with him… Has travel ever pushed you that extra bit? Or meeting someone who just cried out to be included in a book?