Thursday, February 7, 2008


A couple of weeks ago I talked about how I always carry a tiny notebook, but I neglected to mention the role they play in my writing.

When I visited the schools on Guam in 2000 I knew that I would write a book set there one day. I didn't know what the book would be about. I only knew the setting pulled at me. During spare moments, I recorded observations in my notebook.

Wind blowing through the palm leaves,

a bend in the trunk like the curve of a woman's hip

Ray Pablo -n- Dianne Atoique 4-ever carved on a bench

Red buses carry Japanese tourists dressed in Hawaiian shirts and straw hats

quarter slices of green papaya served with a sold hotdog

"Make you a deal, a best friend deal"

a wilted yellow hibiscus on the ground

Even now, when I read those words, they take me back. Six months later, I did return where I filled more notebooks, this time with a focus on a story. But the rich details from my tiny notebook played a key role in KEEPER OF THE NIGHT, too. They helped me travel back when the expense of another research trip was not possible.

If you're a writer, you don't have to journey to an exotic island to capture a place. Your local coffee shop or park will do. You don't have to have a particular story in mind. The sensory snippets you record today, may be the rich details that draw a reader to your book tomorrow.

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