I find travelling helps expand my mind so much. I learn so many new things and enter a world of different cultures, food and language. It helps me to really learn what other places are like and incorporate those differences into my novels.
For example, my main character is half-Japanese. Her father was a Japanese man so going to the country was crucial to understand not only who Grace would be, but who her father was too. It was fun to cruise around Japan and see the beautiful countryside and see what the cities and towns really looked like in-person.
As someone who has never lived in snow or really seen it… it was amazing to actually see proper snow fall and even be caught in a snowstorm! It made me realise exactly what snow is like, and I needed the experience to be able to incorporate that into my character. Grace would have visited her family many times in Japan so she would know exactly what snow was like – unlike Matt who had never seen it in his life.
The city life in Tokyo was also amazing to see and experience. The hustle and bustle in Tokyo is very different than my everyday life and experiencing Tokyo was incredible. It really did help to shape Grace into who she would be, considering she is half Japanese. Seeing the scenery at Mt Fuji and visiting temples in Tokyo was incredible to experience, not only for my own love of Japan, but also for writing my Japanese character.
Seeing these places inspired me a lot and I’d find myself tapping out conversations or scenes while wandering the streets. I’d go over dialogue in my head and think of things that would have happened along these very same streets for my characters.
I was also extremely lucky to be there during the prime cherry blossom season! Cherry blossoms are my favourite flower and being able to see them up close and personally, touch them and smell them was just an absolute dream come true!
Naturally, Grace loves cherry blossoms as well (I had to put a bit of myself in there somewhere!) and she used to have a framed, pressed bunch of cherry blossoms. It was lost during the war but it’s something she always remembers, and she can’t wait until the world returns to normal and she can go back to Japan and get some more blossoms pressed.
Travelling really opens up so many doors in your imagination! It’s especially helpful when you visit a country not only near and dear to your own heart, but extremely relevant for your character. For example, if I had a character obsessed with Korea I’d make a trip there to truly experience it and see it for what it is through my own eyes.
My imagination expands a lot during travelling and I write so many things while in a different country. There is something truly magical about being away from home and experiencing a new culture and different way of life. It really made me happy to travel overseas and use my experiences for my characters.