Ask Cassie Miller of the Postmistress Mysteries about the National Postal Museum in Washington DC, and she’ll tell you she’s visited many times. But you, the reader, never see her there. In fact, in the three books that feature her and her one-woman post office in North Ashcot, Massachusetts, Cassie hardly ever travels outside her hometown. In the third book of the series, Addressed to Kill (July 2017), she gets only as far as the community college campus on the edge of town.
Me? I have many travel stories. Who doesn’t?
Sleeping on the linoleum at Chicago’s O’Hare in the middle of a blizzard; being stuck in the smoking section (years ago) as if there really is a difference between yes- and no- when you’re all in a cabin 30000+ feet up; on a business trip in a town where “good restaurant” means a choice of vending machines in the lobby of the motel, the kind of establishment where you sleep with your clothes on and your purse under your pillow.
Luggage lost, luggage stolen. (Picture hand across brow here): I’ve seen it all.
So I wonder why I’ve never given any of my characters travel experience, even a bad one. Maybe because I think every reader would be able to say: I’ve been there, and I can top that.
In fact my characters have hardly traveled at all.
It took four books to get Gloria Lamerino of the Periodic Table series out of Revere, Massachusetts. It took eight books for Geraldine Porter of the Miniature Mysteries to leave fictional Lincoln Point, California for Manhattan. Sophie Knowles of the Professor Sophie Knowles mysteries stayed put in Massachusetts through all four books, as does Cassie Miller.
In theory, it’s very interesting to put a character in a different locale from her original setting. You get a chance to see what happens to her in a new environment, how she reacts to things she’s not used to: unfamiliar weather and culture, the idiosyncrasies of regional language.
I’m not sure why I don’t send my characters packing. I’d love to see how the coastal Gloria would fare in Montana, how Geraldine would do in Iowa, how Sophie would adapt to Texas, how Cassie might enjoy one of the many postal museums—the facility in Orange City, Florida, for example.
Can you tell I’m talking myself into a whirlwind tour with my protagonists? What kind of luggage will they have? How will they dress? Will they catch a Broadway show in Manhattan? River raft down the Mississippi? Hand glide in Rio? I can hardly wait to see.
Question for readers: How do you feel about finding a familiar character out of town, in an unfamiliar place?