In January my husband and I took a trip to Reno, Nevada. I had the highest bid for a two-night stay at the Peppermill in a silent auction the year before.
I set it up, knowing we also had an amount we could spend at the spa. All the way there I all I could think of was a nice body massage and one for hubby. We went into the spa and discovered we didn’t have enough to cover two massages. I said we could still get two but frugal hubby said, no. I signed up for a massage and my husband had a gentlemen’s pedicure.
This was a fancy spa. I entered an area just for women to change and then I could join my husband in a co-ed area with a hot tub, sauna, and a quiet lounge where we waited for our treatments. I had expected my husband to join me in the lounge, but he didn’t arrive before they called me back to the room for my massage. It turned out he’d been taking a tour of the three floors that made up the spa.
I was taken to a room and asked to slip under the sheet on the massage table. I did as I was asked. As I laid there face down, staring at the floor waiting for the masseuse to come back, my mind wandered in the direction it seems to go more and more these days. I thought, “I could be a dead body and no one would notice.” That, of course had my mind flying to all sorts of scenarios. The masseuse came in and started my massage. The whole time I was still figuring out how I could have a murder in a spa like the one I was at, and how to involved Shandra Higheagle the main character in my mystery series.
By the time my massage was over, I had the story starting in my head. After dressing, I went out and started asking the people at the sign-in desk a bunch of questions about how a spa that size was run, while I waited for my husband to come out of the men’s side.
Back home, I started coming up with a method of murder that would be plausible and started the book Toxic Trigger-point. The book opens with Shandra opening a door to a massage room and seeing someone face down on the table. She thinks she’s got the wrong room and waits in the hall. She and the masseuse discover the woman on the table is dead.
I love when I can work something I’ve experienced into a book. I’ll be taking a jet boat ride in a couple of weeks to learn more about the Hells Canyon area to set a Gabriel Hawke book there. My need to know the settings for my books will also take me to Iceland this month. My goal is to have Hawke go there to teach or learn more about tracking on cold conditions. (watch for blogs and photos about both trips)
Another great thing about traveling, our 40th anniversary trip will be to Hawaii, where I hope to send Shandra for book #14.
Seeing the places I use as settings in books helps me to experience it not only through me but through my characters.