They just rock that way.
Welcome back Amy!
Living All the Things
So I went to New York a couple of weeks ago, and one of my travelling companions almost had a coronary. We were walking down Broadway, across Times Square, and there was a young man pushing a comedy club.
“No thank you!” I said cheerfully. “We’re sort of busy!”
“It’s because I’m black, isn’t it,” the young man said playfully, and I rolled my eyes, and said, “Yes, yes it is!” with an almost straight face.
For a moment the young man looked taken aback, and then I winked and he pointed at me, laughing, “Ah-ahhhh! Ya almost got me!” and I laughed back.
“You’re too quick for me!” I said, and then I continued on while he gave his patter to the next unsuspecting tourist.
A block later, I stopped to talk to a woman raising money for a soup kitchen. She was shouting at the top of her lungs but she quieted down and talked when I fished out a dollar and dropped it in her can. (A good piece of information when visiting Manhattan? Just give everyone you meet a dollar, and that way, everyone you meet will love you.)
And then there was the street vendor, whom I’d planned to buy cheap scarves from, because I knew people who had talked about the street vendors, and who would really appreciate a four-dollar scarf.
I walked away twenty-something dollars poorer, with a plastic bag full of knock-off pashmina in my grasp, and a face turned up to the brilliantly cold blue sky visible between the outlandishness that is Times Square.
My friend looked at me in disgust. “My God,” she said. “Stop talking to people.”
I grinned. “I really do have it tattooed on my forehead, don’t I?”
“Tourist? If it was tattooed on your forehead, people might ignore that!”
And it was true. I love new places. I love talking to the people who live there. I love hearing their stories. I wanted to chat with the young man from the comedy club. I wanted to see his show. I wanted to visit the soup kitchen the woman was getting money for. I wanted to talk to the people. Not always, mind you. My daughter had a psychology class that required her to require an AA meeting in our neighborhood, and I waited outside—I was not in the mood for all of those stories, not when they were so close to home and I so easily live them when I hear them. But in a far away place?
I want to know the stories. I want to live them. I want to know the quick way home from work and the best place for coffee and the history of the buildings I’m passing. I want to know what was there before the thing that is here now. It’s how I know my own area—often with mourning as I see more and more of it developed, and none of it with character—and when I visit someplace? That’s how I want to know it.
That’s how my character Owen in Country Mouse wanted to know London.
The story starts with Owen, in a seedy pub, tired, hungry, and left in London to his own devices. He gets picked up by Malcolm, (who tries desperately to be a Dom with an attitude) and the two of them spend the next few days exploring London, and each other.
Part of the fun of this story for me was the travelogue.
While we were writing it, Aleksandr Voinov would send me menus from the places we were visiting and I’d choose Owen’s dinner for the night. He’d ask me what Owen wanted to see more, and I’d tell him, and Malcolm would escort Owen there for the moment. At one point, he told me a story about the man who wrangled the falcons that are used to keep the pigeon population under control. In the margins of our shared document, I wrote, “That is so COOL!”
On the page, as Owen was hearing the story, he said, “That is so cool!”
And it really was.
As human beings the number of lives we can live is limited. Even as writers, nobody can write all the things running through our minds. But I got a chance to live another place through the eyes of a native, and to write a character who experienced the same thing.
That is so COOL!
Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head. She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies. She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.
You can find Amy at:
Her website: Green's Hill
Her blog: Yarning to Write
Facebook: Amy Lane
Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov are releasing Country Mouse this week, available from Riptide Books. If you’d like to win a piece of yummy Country Mouse swag, simply comment on this post and I’ll pick a random commenter to win!
Country Mouse: Owen may be a bit of a country mouse, but he’s loving his vacation in London. After a long day playing tourist, he’s on the hunt for some cheap beer and a good burger. Instead he finds a man hunting him, an arrogant prick with only one thing on the brain: the kind of meat that doesn’t come on a bun.
Eighty-hour weeks at a trading desk don’t leave Malcolm Kavanagh much time for meaningful relationships. Besides, in his world, everything’s a competition—even sex. When his newest one-night-sub fails to show, Malcolm sets his sights on the pretty young Yank on the bar stool beside him.
Owen’s all for an adventure with a native, but he’s not the pushover Malcolm thinks he is, and Malcolm’s not as shallow as he tries to be. They both soon learn that nothing's too intimate to share with a stranger, and the strangest things happen when two people share the most important pieces of their hearts.