I decided about 6-8 months ago that my characters would get to know each other on a bike trip through some part of France. My previous experience on a bike trip around Lake Konstanz made me realize a bike trip makes for an excellent setting for a story, and great way for two people to travel together, while getting to know one another. I picked France because frankly in the two years I spent in Europe, I didn’t spend anywhere near as much time as I’d expected in France (where, go figure, I can actually speak the language), so this trip was a way to make up for it.
My trip really came down to the wire because of the insanely hectic summer it turned out to be, but I knew if I wanted to write this story, I had to take the trip. A search for “touring bike ride France” lead to a few websites with options to explore; in the end, I decided on a tour being offered by Discover France called “Midi-Pyrenees Most Beautiful Villages.” The images of the villages looked incredible, idealistic even, for a story setting, and the weather in the Midi-Pyrenees in late September, seemed perfect for a bike tour.
I’ve never written a novel before…nor have I ever been on a research trip, so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was supposed to do. I figured the best way to ensure success on this research trip was to, as much as possible, place myself in my characters’ shoes, to be them – to imagine their experiences, conversations, thoughts, and feelings to the places and experiences I was living. Everywhere I went, there were three of us, me, Ava Shaw (main female character) and Josh Bailey (main male character) – although they didn’t have names at the time of the trip.
I took a bunch of pictures and made videos along the way. I’ll be posting a lot of the material I collected in blog posts as I write the book; I want to get you all interested, fascinated, and in love with the Midi-Pyrenees region and the characters before the book comes out! Given the opportunity, I would definitely return to the Midi-Pyrenees region and further explore what it has to offer.
I’ll know soon enough how effective and beneficial the research trip turned out to be for the story setting and telling; hopefully it will make it much easier to write once the clock starts ticking on 1 November.