Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dream Travel-by guest Wendy Corsi Staub

Author photo credit: Susan Woog Wagner Photography

I'm excited to have Wendy Corsi Staub spend some time on Suspense Novelist. It was my pleasure to read and write a review for Dying Breath.

Today, April 29th, is a big day for Wendy with TWO new releases available!

When I was a child growing up in Western New York, my parents drove us all over the eastern half of the country: to New England and Florida, Saint Louis and New Orleans, and just about everywhere in between.

Money was scarce enough that we carried a hot plate and a cooler, often finding our meals in supermarkets instead of restaurants. But, when I look back, that was the best part. I can still taste the thick sub sandwiches my mother would wrap in Saran, drenched in oil and vinegar; I can taste the thin Lays potato chips, and ice-cold Pepsi in glass bottles, and Mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies with butterscotch in them.

There have been other delicious foods in my life–but nothing quite like what came out of our cooler on a family road trip.

Those road trips, stretched out in the way-back of our wood-paneled station wagon with my sister and brother (who ever heard of seat belts back then?), give me plenty of time to indulge my favorite hobby--reading, of course. Perhaps just as importantly, they ignited my passion for American history, for geography, for adventure, for travel.

My parents wisely allowed me, as a young child, to channel all of that passion into helping them plan our road trips, going out of their way to indulge my whims. They drove us high into the Ozark mountains to see the final home of my literary heroine, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and to the banks of the Mississippi to see Mark Twain’s childhood home. In Salem, Massachusetts, I learned about the seventeenth century witch trials that would later inspire my young adult thriller WITCH HUNT. In New York City for the first time at thirteen, I declared that I would one day move there to become an author, and the moment I graduated from college, I packed up and made it happen.

My parents had promised me that I could–and that I would.

I have a husband and two kids of my own now, and the career I’ve always wanted. As a New York Times bestselling novelist with more than seventy published books under my belt, I have to travel. A lot. For research, for conferences and speaking engagements, for book tours.

I bring my family along whenever I can, having decided, in a moment of either sheer inspiration or sheer insanity, that we should visit all fifty states before the kids graduate high school. That’s still at least half a decade away, but we’re about halfway there, and we haven’t limited our trips to the fifty states, either.

We live for our travels, and the business part mingles with pleasure, all four of us involved. We explored an old plantation house near Savannah when I was researching my book THE FINAL VICTIM; for BRIDE NEEDS GROOM, we embarked on a Nevada book tour that started with my name up in lights towering above the Vegas Strip. Last summer we spent a month in the Pacific Northwest so that I could sign my current thriller, DON’T SCREAM, and research the next one.

We’ve been inside the White House and on the rim of the Grand Canyon; white water rafting in Tennessee and snorkeling in the Virgin Islands; to the top of the Space Needle, to a nearly-deserted island, and (of course), to Disney World.

In Curacao my children learned to speak some Dutch; in Mexico, they swam with the Dolphins; in the Yukon Territory, they panned for gold. They have eaten alligator and sushi and ceviche and crayfish, among other local cuisines.

Two summers ago in Chicago, we trekked up to Hyde Park to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House because our eldest had just read The Wright Three by Blue Balliet. Last year, we found ourselves on a crabbing expedition in the Alaskan wilderness because our youngest is a budding naturalist.

Last month on Broadway here in New York, we saw the Sondheim revival of “Sunday in the Park With George,” because last summer at the Art Institute of Chicago, the boys had seen the famous Seurat painting that inspired the show.

We also saw both the Cubs and the White Sox play, having added major league baseball stadiums to the challenge. We work in a game wherever we go, if the home team is at home.

Sometimes I have to wonder whether we’ve bitten off more than we can chew.

Especially lately, with two new books coming out this week (an adult thriller, DYING BREATH, and a YA Paranormal, LILY DALE: BELIEVING) and two more due on July 1 (a chick lit, SLIGHTLY SUBURBAN, and a romance, THAT’S AMORE, both written under my pseudonym Wendy Markham).

I’ve been on the road so much lately to promote them that I feel weary just thinking about more travel ahead.

But this morning, I spent a few necessary hours online making arrangements for this summer’s journey, our first to northern California.

The official reason for my being there: the RWA National conference, where I am presenting a workshop called “Confessions of a Bionic Author.”

The other reason: new adventures in new territory.

In the midst of trying to figure out whether we could afford to spend two nights or three in Tahoe and how I could possibly wrangle lodging at Yosemite at this late date, I found someone looking over my shoulder.

“What are you doing, Mom?” my oldest asked.

“Planning our trip out west.”

He lit up. “Can I help? There are some things I was really hoping we could see while we’re there.”

I hesitated. Our schedule was already pretty crammed, and it was all so expensive, and I would have a tight deadline waiting for me back in New York...

Then I thought of my parents, driving us to the Ozarks from Western New York in a station wagon in the summer of 1975. I remembered how I just knew, as I stood in the house that Laura Ingalls Wilder and her husband Almanzo had built, that I was going to become a famous author too, one day.

“You sure can help,” I told my son, and handed him a stack of California travel guides.

That was a good eight hours ago.

Last I knew, he was on Trip Advisor, researching hotels in Gold Rush Country. He had read a book that was set there.

Who knows? Maybe someday he–or his brother–will write one.

You can read more about my 50-State Book Tour--and all of the books that have been inspired along the way–at www.wendycorsistaubcommunity.com or www.wendycorsistaub.com.

Wendy, thanks for sharing a part of your life with Suspense Novelist and delighting us with a glimpse into one way dreams are made.

Continued success, new friend.

It's all better with friends.

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