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Foreign Affairs

My writing usually takes place while I’m sitting alone in a room, but every once in awhile, the job takes me farther afield. This fall, I made a thrilling visit to Berlin to research a novel (and sample too much beer, curry wurst and fries, strudel and berliners (aka jelly donuts). There is nothing like visiting a place in person to absorb the atmosphere, the sights and sounds and smells and textures that will bring a story to life.

The wall that used to divide East and West Berlin

And—bonus—I was able to visit my German publisher in Hamburg. This was a really important moment for me, because the very first translations of my books were in German. Vielen Dank to Juergen, Sara, Sophie, and Johanna for the warm welcome to gorgeous Hamburg.

Then it was on to Portugal for more book research! My upcoming novel, Welcome to Beach Town, features a big story, including global travel and surfing. Nazare has the biggest waves in the world, so off we went.

Soaking up the atmosphere on a windy hilltop in Lisbon
Nazare, the ultimate beach town

And of course, when you’re in Portugal, you’d better study the historic sites…

Mosteiro (monastery) da Batalha

…and drink the wine…

new favorites: Sangria Branca and Porto Tonica

…and eat the food. New favorite recipes: Curry Wurst (a post-war classic from Berlin), Caldo Gallego from Galicia, kale soup from Portugal, and Portuguese Arroz de Tomate.

…and take the time to live and learn each and every chapter of your story.

Where is your story taking you today?

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