06-18 Sarah Raplee – WHY PSYCHIC AGENTS?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Writers at Work

by M.L. Buchman

When my kid was little, she was riding with her mom in the car. A flagger stopped them at a construction site and they both watched the happenings around them in a comfortable silence. Then my kid turned to her mom and delivered her first-ever complete sentence with absolute seriousness, "Men move dirt."

I've done a lot of jobs over the years; some fairly normal, some rather peculiar, and yes, some moving dirt. I spent five years odd-jobbing in restaurants, rebuilding a 50' sailboat, as an electrician and technical director in live theater, etc. Then I stumbled into corporate and for the next few decades I did a wild array of law, computers, construction, opera, and even designing tourist maps. I was on the leading edge of IT, Lean, Project Management, and a dozen other things that have turned into a blur.

And then 2-1/2 years ago, I became a full-time writer. That's not a leap you make idly, or should make at all without massive savings or a large retirement fund. We had neither but by dint of hard work (and totally awesome fans), it's working out okay.

So, we decided to take our first vacation in a long time. Let's just say that having a kid in college during a recession that cost me two different jobs and the loss of a house I'd designed and built to last as long as we lived, we haven't had one in a while. But we checked the bank account, and then we checked it again, and it said, "Sure, but don't go wild."

Oddly enough, that was easy. We live in the Pacific Northwest and it is one of the most beautiful places on the planet (No, wait! Don't move here. It rains all the time. Honest...No, really!). We thought about it a little and I also happened to think about the book I was presently writing. The lead female character was being reluctant about revealing her past...in other words, she didn't have one and was falling flat on the page due to the lack.

And then I thought about a nice trip and I turned to my wife, "Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island seems like a nice place to visit, doesn't it?" We've both been there several times and it is truly one of the highlights of the Northwest. "Sounds like a good place to come from as well," my stumbling character stood upright and nodded knowingly to the north.

It did.

So we drove from our home on the Oregon Coast, up along the Olympic Peninsula, and took a ferry over to Victoria. And that's when things started getting strange. As the ferry was pulling in, I looked out the window and saw the town's gorgeous skyline. Which I didn't get a picture of, because I was taking this one instead.

Little known fact, Victoria is the second busiest seaplane port in North America (the busiest is Skagway, Alaska because it's the only way in or out). And parked right there was the plane that I had already decided would be the featured aircraft in my current novel (a DHC-6 Twin Otter). At this point my character was chortling over my shoulder, "That's where I learned how to fly." I'd been wondering.

Then we visited the BC Royal Museum, one of the nicest small museums anywhere. My wife had arranged a behind the scenes tour where we, by pure chance, managed to meet the Head of Exhibits, the guy who heads the group that builds, installs, and maintains all of the exhibits. No pictures, but a great half hour conversation. My character thought this was almost as cool as I did and insisted that she wanted to work here before joining the military.

Then we wandered down to the docks where I was able to see my planes a little closer.

Even a lot closer.

I also spent about a half hour chatting with a pilot about handling characteristics and a tricky landing he made in Malta that is definitely going to end up in the book somehow.

We drove all over Victoria to find out where my character lived. We explored libraries and finally took a little ferry ride to see what her daily commute would be like. These ferries are just too cute for words. They're so cute, they even do ballets. Watch this, you'll thank me. (Ballet begins around 1:00.)

As we were taking this tiny ferry tour along the harbor, my wife and I were taking photographs and discussing what my heroine might see and think as she passed different sights. We were afloat in a beautiful harbor on a gorgeous day and would soon be out having a nice English tea in the middle of our first vacation in seven years.

Then I was struck by an interesting thought and I turned to her in astonishment and said:
"I'm working right now."

Let's hear it for being a writer!

My character who grew up in Victoria, won't actually have her book out until next September...it isn't even finished yet. But my next Firehawks book will be out in two weeks, so you might want to catch that in the meantime. It's set in another lovely part of the Pacific Northwest.

Release August 4th - available for pre-order now
This is definitely my favorite job yet!


Diana McCollum said...

Good for you finally getting a well deserved vacation! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip! It is funny how our muses tend to appear at odd times, like in the middle of Tea! Interesting and captivating blog post. Loved the You Tube of the ferry boat ballet.

Sarah Raplee said...

Awesome video, Matt! I do research on our getaways, too. Which means I get a tax deduction for my half of expenses!

M. L. Buchman said...

Diana, I know! Those boats are just so cute. And to have a proper "tea" and be doing it as research was just too cool.

Sarah, Tip from my accountant: My wife (who is deeply involved in my business in brainstorming, editing, and other ways) is also the "secretary" on my research trips maintaining a log of what we saw and what we discussed as a result of it. In that role, her trip was also deductible. So, check with your accountant about the depth of involvement necessary, but my little corporation sent 2 of us to Victoria. :)

Judith Ashley said...

So glad you had a fun filled working vacation, Matt! Victoria is a beautiful city.

And I do agree that we have too much rain, at least here in Oregon! If people want to live in the Pacific Northwest, they'd do better to move to Seattle or even Victoria, British Columbia, Canada!