Road Tripping, West Texas Style
It's been a particular challenge writing a novel set in a very real small town located a ten-hour drive away from where I live in Houston. The setting for any novel is a fictional construct viewed through the authorial lens. During several brief stops through the tiny town of Marfa in West Texas during Big Bend vacations/research trips, I was charmed and intrigued by its fascinating history, its beautiful views, its isolation, and of course, the mystery of the Marfa lights. So I started doing research, which led me to discover that thanks to the arrival of Burt Compton of Marfa Gliders, this beautiful area has become a premier destination for the sport of soaring.
Through research, memory, and some soaring in the Houston area, I put together and sold a proposal for Triple Exposure, my seventh romantic suspense novel (fourteenth book overall). With a challenging deadline, I've been working away at it, but I knew I needed to make another trip out to complete my research.
Though it's not the quickest or easiest place to get to, Marfa is well worth the effort. The air is clear, the high desert plains are virtually pristine, and the small-town friendliness and emphasis on the arts entice many visitors (but not *too* many, thank goodness) to pull up stakes and move there. While visiting, Joni and I got our first look at the Marfa lights, sampled art and history, and even dined on "Marfalafel" (yum!) from the famous Food Shark truck.
And I discovered a Marfa very different from my fictional construct. My challenge over the next couple of months will be to merge the reality with the fictional world without sacrificing story.
Meanwhile, thanks to my new friends in Marfa, from Burt and Kathy Compton to Mona Garcia of the Arcon Inn (who makes the most delicious breakfasts ever) and everyone who was gracious enough to answer my questions. And a special thanks to Joni Rodgers for doing Sherpa duty and helping with the drive.