Friday, April 29, 2011

Amanda Cabot: Trains and Boats and Planes and … Books?


Are you shaking your head and asking what possible connection can there be between forms of transportation and books?  Keep reading.  I hope to convince you it’s not as crazy as it sounds. 

I’m an author who’s also a Sagittarian, and for me, travel has enhanced my life as a writer.  I’m not going to claim that I believe in astrology – I don’t – but according to the astrology books, being a Sagittarian means I was born with a suitcase already packed.  That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I do love to travel, and I also love to write, and over the years I’ve learned that travel can spark ideas for new books.

Like many authors, I’ve traveled to specific places to research a book.  The odd thing about those trips is that I wound up changing my mind about where the book would take place.  I went to Alaska, certain that my setting would be Seward.  Imagine my surprise when the scene that lingered in my imagination was the view from a small cemetery near the Tanana River.  That place turned into a fictional town that became the setting for two books. 
My Texas Dreams books were the result of a similar experience.  I traveled to Texas, believing my book would take place in the south Texas plains, but once I got there, I found myself more drawn to the Hill Country, and so the fictional town of Ladreville was born.  And, since I fell in love with the area, one book (Paper Roses) became a trilogy, with Scattered Petals and my current release of Tomorrow’s Garden following.

Eventually I realized that one of the appeals of travel is that it exposes me to new ideas, sometimes when I least expect them.  After all, who would have believed anyone – even a writer – would be inspired by a highway rest area?  Yet, that’s just what happened.  Although I had stopped at that particular rest area (the welcome center in southern New York State) dozens of times before, one day I just happened to look into the tourist information room and spotted a carousel horse.  You have to admit that that’s an odd thing to find in a rest area, unless you know that the Binghamton, NY area is home to six carousels.  Until that day, I hadn’t realized that, but the horse piqued my imagination so much that it ultimately led to the publication of six books with a carousel theme.  

Although I’m now a full time writer, for many years I had a day job.  One of the good/bad things about that day job was that I was a very frequent flyer.  The good part was that I was able to visit a lot of different places, and some of them provided inspiration for books.  For example, I was sitting in a restaurant in Phoenix, eating alone (one of the bad things about all the traveling), when the Muzak started playing “Stranger in Paradise.”  “What a great title for a book,” I said to myself.  (No, I haven’t gotten to the point where I talk out loud and cause strangers to stare.)  That started the whole process of asking questions.  “Where’s paradise?”  Answer: Hawaii.  “Why would someone be there and feel like a stranger?”  The answers to that question turned into a book.  Even though I changed the title, the story begins in Hawaii and the hero and heroine are definitely strangers there.

I’ve also learned that I don’t have to travel far from home to be inspired.  I was struggling with the title for the third of my Texas Dreams books.  The original was Winter Garden, but my publisher didn’t like the “winter” part.  I kept wracking my brain for an alternative, but nothing clicked until my husband and I visited the local botanic gardens’ annual glass art show.  Admittedly, the greenhouse is gorgeous and the stained glass panels were equally beautiful, but who would have thought that one entry – the picture of a couple sitting on a hillside, holding hands and looking into the distance – would provide me with a title?  The artist had named his work “Tomorrow.”  When I saw it, I knew I’d found the perfect word.  Winter Garden became Tomorrow’s Garden
The truth is, writers can find inspiration anywhere, but if you’re traveling, I urge you to keep an open mind (and an open notebook).  Who knows what wonderful stories may result?

Amanda Cabot has always been a dreamer, and so it’s no coincidence that her first books for the CBA market are called Texas Dreams.  Set in the Hill Country beginning in 1856, these deeply emotional historical romances showcase God’s love as well as that between a man and a woman.  The first in the trilogy, Paper Roses, was a finalist for the Carol Award.  Scattered Petals received critical acclaim, and the final Texas Dreams book, Tomorrow’s Garden, has just been released.  A former director of Information Technology, Amanda has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  She’s delighted to now be a full time writer living in Cheyenne, WY with her high school sweetheart/ husband of many years.


  1. The research really enhances your books, making the setting almost a character!

  2. Cheri -- I'm so glad you think so. One of the reasons I hated to finish the last of the Texas Dreams books was that I hated to leave Ladrevill, as well as its inhabitants.