Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Dealing with Deja Vu




Evocative descriptions and strong senses of time and place complement the intricate, intelligent plot, which shocks and chills while thoughtfully examining trauma's toll on people and their relationships.
                     -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  I’m so confused. Have you ever had a book mix with reality so much that you can’t untangle which is which? Yeah. That just happened to me.  But in the case of Annie Ward and her  spectacular new Beautiful Bad, it doesn’t matter.  
Here’s what happened. I got her book, instantly sophisticated and riveting, and became immersed in it--in the exotic locales, and the intense psychological drama, and the fear and the politics and the danger –well, all of it. I could just picture it. The setting, the characters, the food, the attitude and the atmosphere. Beautiful Bad is unlike anything I've ever read, and it is terrific. (And soon to be a super-big major motion picture.)
Then Annie sent me the photos of her real life to go with her blog, and I will admit to you I thought—huh? This is EXACTLY how I pictured it all.  How did she get photographs of fictional people? And I realized that her book had taken me so vividly to a time and place that I thought I had actually been there.
Well, as Annie suggests today, maybe I had.
A PLACE THAT FEELS LIKE HOME
                     By Annie Ward
          I spend a lot of time feeling nostalgic for the past. There’s a reason for that. I used to live in some fabulous cities like Los Angeles, New York and Sofia, Bulgaria, the Eastern European capital where my new psychological thriller BEAUTIFUL BAD is partially set.
         And now I live in Kansas. It’s actually very nice, but it’s not--shall we say—all that exciting. So, when I had an opportunity last November to travel with my husband and two boys to a big gathering of old friends and family in Sofia, I jumped right on it. “This is going to be fabulous, kids! You’re going to experience another culture. The food is amazing. You’ll be able to hear your mom speaking another language!”
         As it turns out, if you’re hoping to impress nine and ten year-old boys, there are better ways to do it than giving a taxi driver directions in Bulgarian.
     
    I moved to Sofia when I was twenty-six because of a relationship.  That love story fizzled out quickly but I ended up staying five years because I found interesting work as a travel journalist and screenwriter. Also, it was cheap, fun and intriguing.
As I prepped for the “big return to Bulgaria” I daydreamed about my old friends and adventures and worked myself up into a tizzy of excitement and great expectations.  
I knew better than to think going back to Sofia twenty years later with my kids was going to be all-night parties at discos, running to catch trains to obscure mountain villages and intense discussions about culture, politics and religion. I did, however, think that my kids would be awe-struck by the vast difference between our sleepy green suburb at home and the gray, stark, palatial enormity of an ancient Eastern European capital. 



When I first moved to Sofia, I remember having a visceral reaction to (just to name a few things) the Communist statues, the Russian and Turkish influences on architecture and the vibrant, succulent taste of the fresh produce from the farmers’ markets. It was as if I’d never tasted a real tomato before in my life.

“Boys,” I demanded while out and about the day after our arrival, “Isn’t that church beautiful? Have you ever tasted such delicious lamb? Isn’t the language interesting to hear?” 


Struggling with jet lag and trying not to yawn, they dutifully confirmed that yes the food was good, yes the building was beautiful and yes the language was certainly weird.
Why were they not falling head over heels in love with this mysterious country, exactly as I had? And then I realized. They were not me; a twenty-six-year-old, heartbroken struggling writer who had found a cosmopolitan city where it was possible to rent a decent apartment for two hundred dollars a month. They weren’t fascinated by the aftermath of Communism and rising ethnic tension in the Balkans as I had been and they had not “discovered” this new world on their own. Bulgaria was my love affair, not theirs.
They were young boys on vacation with mom and dad, far away from their Play Station and friends. They had their whole lives before them. They would make their own discoveries, fall in love with their own exotic lands and find a place as uniquely suited to them as Bulgaria had been for me. I hope and trust that will happen.
My husband is from Liverpool, England. Like the British soldier Ian, who is the center of the dark love triangle in BEAUTIFUL BAD, my husband traveled to many of the captivating locations mentioned in the book such as Cyprus, Rwanda, Greece, Macedonia and Croatia during his military years. However, it was not until he visited my hometown in Kansas that he felt like he could say, “this is where I feel at home.”  He loved the nature, the quiet and the seclusion of my parents’ farm. The next year we moved to Kansas to start a family.
Kansas is where I was born and where I live now, but I will never feel so completely “me” as I did eating, drinking and dancing in a rustic tavern on the mountainside with an elevated view of the chaotic sprawl of Sofia.
Have you ever found a place—a town, city, country or maybe even just a cabin somewhere—where you felt unusually happy and at home? Did you stay and for how long? Did you write about it? Do you miss it? And the strangest question of all… did you ever wonder if there was a reason why you loved a certain place and why it brought on a feeling of deja-vu and comfort… almost as if you may have mysteriously been there before?
HANK: And maybe we have, right? Because we’ve been there in books. Is they’re a place you’ve visited that seemed mysteriously familiar? Or—hey. Let’s talk about déjà vu, too. I know there’s a scientific explanation for it. But has it happened to you? Where, or when?
(And just wondering--have you ever been to Bulgaria?)
And listen to this, Reds and readers: Annie is giving away BEAUTIFUL BAD to two lucky commenters!


Maddie and Ian's romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living a quiet suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian's PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple's tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.

Annie received a BA in English Lit with an emphasis in Creative Writing from UCLA and an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute. While studying at AFI, she sold her first short screenplay to MTV/ BFCS Productions. Starring Adam Scott, STRANGE HABIT became a Grand Jury Award Winner at the Aspen Film Festival and a Sundance Festival Official Selection.

After film school, Annie moved to Eastern Europe to work for Fodor Travel Guides, covering regions of Spain and Bulgaria. She remained in Bulgaria for five years spanning a civilian uprising and government overthrow. The novel THE MAKING OF JUNE, which Annie wrote with the Bulgarian revolution and Balkan crisis as its backdrop was sold to Penguin Putnam and published to critical acclaim in 2002.

During Annie’s five years in the Balkans she received a Fulbright Scholarship, taught at the University of Sofia, and script doctored eight screenplays for Nu-Image, an Israeli/American film company that produced a number of projects in Bulgaria for the SyFy Channel. She was later the recipient of an Escape to Create artist residency.
BEAUTIFUL BAD is her debut psychological thriller.
She lives in Kansas with her family.


120 comments:

  1. I don't know that I've ever felt some place like that either. Maybe I haven't searched hard enough. Or maybe it's still out in front of me.

    As to your boy's reaction, maybe you were also pushing it too much. Then again, they are 9 and 10 year old boys. They probably wouldn't have been that impressed either way, partially because they don't fully have the context to appreciate it yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My parents drive us to Washington DC when my sister and I were about that age. We complained the entire time! I remember just wanting to read my comic books. But! We loved it, absolutely, but we would never have admitted it!

      Delete
    2. Good morning Mark. Yes, you're right I was definitely pushing it too much. But then I had the sense to back off and everyone had a good time. Thanks for saying hi! And you know, you might be one of the lucky ones who is already right where you were meant to be.

      Delete
  2. Congratulations on your new book, Annie.
    I can’t say I’ve felt a sense of déjà vu about a place; I’ve found the contentment is less about the place and more about being with family. However, I find our quiet, tree-surrounded home [where the deer regularly wander through] is a place where I’m happy to be . . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Joan, if I saw a deer in my backyard I would jump up and down with delight. Very very quietly so as not to scare the deer.

      Delete
    2. Joan, that is exactly the kind of place where I live, too!

      Delete
    3. Hi Joan. Thank you for the congratulations! My mom and dad still live in the "cottage in the woods" where I was born and they have deer, squirrels, owls (and the occasional coyote) and it's so fun to hang out on the back porch with them. I completely understand why you're happy in a quiet tree-surrounded home :-)

      Delete
  3. I have never been to Bulgaria, and I can't say I've ever felt like that about a place. I find the idea intriguing though. Who knows, maybe that place is out there for me, I just haven't visited it yet. And your book sounds wonderful, by the way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that’s a cool thought, Marla. Maybe it is still out there. Love that.

      Delete
    2. Thank you Marla! You never know, maybe it is, or maybe you're just very content where you are, which is lovely. Thanks for saying hi.

      Delete
  4. I get déjà vu often (not as often as when I was a kid), but it's for moments, not places. Something will happening, even something ordinary, I will know exactly what is going to happen next because I've seen it before.

    Yes, I know there are scientific explanations, but isn't more fun to think, "hey! what if I saw this in a dream?". I keep hoping that someday I'll be in some exotic location and suddenly realize I've been there before. What fun way to start a mystery novel...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh great idea! And in your novel, what would be the reason?

      Delete
    2. LOL, I prefer the mysterious explanations to the scientific ones as well. I would love to believe that maybe I had lived there in a previous life. (One can dream, right?)

      Delete
  5. Good Morning Annie. I just reserved Beautiful Bad, hope it arrives soon. When I was in NYC for the first time, it felt so familiar. My dad had lived there as a young man. I realized, tho, it was not deja vu. I was responding to seeing the reality of thousands of 'movie sets' from television and cinema.

    I have a question, I hope you can answer. During the uprising in Sofia, I remember a news photo of a cellist playing his instrument on the street near the violence. Am I remembering that correctly? or did he bravely play in another city? Enjoy your day with JRW's. We are a good crew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or when I was in Paris! Same thing. I had seen it so often in movies, and imagineer it so often from reading, it seemed like I had already been there. And it was a wonderful feeling!

      Delete
    2. Dear Coralee, this is so interesting because you just triggered a memory for me. I'm sorry, though-- it's not the cellist. However, I do remember that there were young people dancing in the big square in front of the parliament building while others were throwing bricks at the windows, climbing the building and trying to break through the upper windows so they could drag the parliament members out into the street. It was very surreal. I describe that scene in detail in my first novel THE MAKING OF JUNE. Your story rings true though, it seems very Bulgarian to play your instrument as the city riots, a la the musicians on THE TITANIC.

      Delete
    3. I got it wrong. It was Sarajevo. I kept checking cities that began with an "S". here is the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedran_Smailovi%C4%87

      Delete
    4. Oh yes, I could see that happening in Sarajevo as well. I have never been there but my husband has and said it was beautiful. Such a shame what happened there. I have heard that the city has recovered and is once again incredible. Thank you for the link.

      Delete
    5. I just opened the link and saw the photo you mentioned. That is incredible. Can you imagine what that building must have been like, before it was destroyed? It's a very sad, moving image. I'm not surprised you've remembered it all these years.

      Delete
  6. People like you, Annie, brave enough to strike out for a foreign country on your own, amaze me and fill me with admiration. I've often thought about unmooring myself from Southwest Ohio, where I've lived all my life, but at this point it is not going to happen. I have been lucky enough to travel quite a bit, though, visiting four other continents since 2001.

    The closest I've ever come to that feeling of "home" is the first time I walked into the house where we live now. Everything about this house spoke to me then, and even though we were not looking to move at the time, I had to have this property. I have truly loved living here, raising my children, being the most creative I've ever been, and learning a million new things.

    We're getting ready to move to a new home, one I designed for aging in place, but I don't think I'll have quite the same love affair with it as I do with where we live now. I get weepy just imagining it.

    How exciting to have a movie made of your own story! I'll look forward to both the book and the film.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I have a dream about the house. It is the same house in every dream, and it is completely real. I have wondered if I would ever see it in real life. I wonder if we each have houses like that… And you actually found yours.

      Delete
    2. Oh Karen, it's going to be hard to leave your home, but you are so smart to think ahead. And if you designed it, I bet it will have some of the same magic...

      Delete
    3. How beautiful to have lived your life and raised your children in the place that feels so perfect. I've been raising kids for ten years in our house now and I must admit, it would be hard to leave. The closets with their heights marked in sharpie, the memory of looking out the window and seeing them playing with their water pistols in the back yard. So much of home is the memories. I wish you luck in your new move and just remember your memories will go with you!

      Delete
    4. Thank you. We also have the heights marked on the wall, going back over 33 years, and including three nephews, and two sons-in-law! I'm going to transfer them to a long sheet of heavy vinyl.

      Hank, I think you're exactly right!

      Delete
  7. Oh, that reminds me, Coralee, exactly. Some years ago I was in Baltimore, for the first time, and I thought wow! This is so familiar! And then I burst out laughing. I turned to the person who was in the car with me and I said: is this the neighborhood where they shot The Wire? And she said yes! It was the strangest sensation, because I absolutely recognized it. And I couldn’t figure out why.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Not sure if this was really deja vu or not but that's how I felt about Maine. I really think it was do to reading all of those great Elisabeth Ogilvie books - I desperately wanted to live on an island in Maine. I can now see a few impracticalities with that however.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What would you think if you met someone from one of the books? What if they didn't know they'd been in it?

      Delete
    2. I have NEVER been to Maine. I need to change that just as soon as possible. It sounds wonderful.

      Delete
  9. congratulations on your new release! I look forward to experiencing the joyful, beautiful side of "your" Bulgaria.

    Marshes and barrier beaches speak to me, where land and water merge, no matter the country.

    When I took the vaporetto from the train station in Venice down the Grand Canal in the pouring down rain, I smiled the whole time. I knew Venice from Donna Leon's books, and she got it exactly right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you read Where the Crawdads Sing?

      And that's a wonderful story about Venice--like you had a secret!

      Delete
    2. Hi Margaret, thank you so much! I'm a little worried about you going into the book thinking it's about the joyful and beautiful Bulgaria, because even though I did in fact love the country and describe that feeling, the story does go a bit dark over there in Eastern Europe. I was in Venice only once a long time ago, and I think I smiled the whole time too.

      Delete
    3. Hi Margaret, I visited Venice years before I discovered the Donna Leon novels. Reading the novels reminded me of places in Venice.

      Hi Hank, I read When the Crawdads Sing and I thought it was a wonderful novel. Kind of a modern Huck Finn.

      Diana

      Delete
  10. Annie, does Bulgarian sounds like Russian? How did you learn it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bulgarian uses the Cyrillic alphabet which does in fact make it look like Russian. Some of the words are similar. For example, "Cheers" in Bulgarian is "Na zdrave" and in Russian it's "Na zdrovia" which both mean to your health. I'm definitely a little rusty but I would say that a Bulgarian could easily understand a lot of Russian whereas I could get a word here and there. Words like "bread" ha ha.

      Delete
    2. p.s. I learned it the old-fashioned way, tutors and boyfriends ;)

      Delete
    3. Tutors and boyfriends--always works! Talk about incentive...

      Delete
  11. Annie, how wonderful that you landed in a place you were meant to be! Your new book sounds intriguing--and it will be interesting reading it, knowing a little of the backstory--and knowing that you are also a screenwriter. Do you find that as you write a novel--as opposed to a screenplay--that you are 'seeing' the action and the setting as if the novel was unspooling like a movie in your head?

    And deja vu--I'm born and bred in north-central Ohio--the lake plains, flattened by eons of glaciers. And yet, I (who am a fairly timid driver in strange places) have no fear of mountains, feel at home among them, and my spirit soars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the mountains too! My next book is set in a small fictional Colorado town and I'm so looking forward to spending some time there this summer. Sometimes I do see the action unfolding in my head but what really happens a lot is that I hear the dialogue. It's frustrating sometimes to have people talking back and forth at each other all day long when you want to concentrate on other things. On occasion my characters wake me up arguing :)

      Delete
    2. Oh, I just burst out laughing! I kinda think that might be a good problem..

      Delete
  12. I felt pretty at home in the mountains of Puerto Rico - as I do in the mountains of the Laurel Highlands, where my books are set. I'm not living in either place right now, but Pittsburgh is a whole lot closer to the Laurel Highlands, that's for sure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to look up the Laurel Highlands and see what it's all about! Thanks for checking in Liz.

      Delete
    2. WHy do you think you felt comfortable there, Liz?

      Delete
    3. Hank, in Puerto Rico? Well, I'm a mountain girl. Beaches are nice, but mountains get me right in the heart. Second, the people were super nice - friendly and very patient with my school-girl Spanish (in the mountains, fewer people speak English, so lots of pointing and charades, accompanied by the correct word as they patiently helped me get it right). Three, great vistas on the tops of the mountains - just wow. With the ocean in the distance. Four, afternoon rain showers - pretty much every day - offering the perfect opportunity to sit and just relax and be.

      Now you've made me want to visit again!

      Delete
    4. Afternoon rain showers sound like the prefect time to take a nap. I always feel guilt napping when the sun's out. It was one of my favorite things about having small kids; a great excuse to lie down and join them for an afternoon snooze.

      Delete
  13. What an interesting story... and congratulations, Annie, on the new book. The setting alone is fascinating.

    I grew up in Los Angeles but felt I'd "come home" when I arrived in Manhattan to go to college at Barnard. Weirdly, I know live in a Boston suburb and when MY daughter visited Manhattan for the first time, she said she felt as if SHE'D come home.

    And as an aside, I'd never have had the courage to move to somewhere like Bulgaria, no matter how adorable the guy was.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh you just made me laugh so hard! Yes, that is a very good point and I can guarantee you I spent a lot of time regretting my adorable crush before I managed to turn things around and enjoy my time. I also lived in Los Angeles and Manhattan. I went to UCLA and later AFI and them moved to the Village. I was a better fit in New York. Thanks so much for everything. I'm really enjoying my time with all of you!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wonderful post! As a mom who has dragged her sons to all my special places, I really appreciated your candor in that regard, Annie. They will have their own special places, for sure! Looking forward to reading Beautiful Bad. Oh, and as for deja vu, I usually get hit in the middle of a conversation with a person I’ve never met before. Always disconcerting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jenn. Honestly, that trip was on the stressful side and so I have no plans to drag them anywhere too exotic in the near future. I'm thrilled to hear that you're looking forward to reading Beautiful Bad. I hope you like it. Thanks for chiming in!

      Delete
    2. Yeah, why is that? You think--wait. I've done this before! But isn't it some sort of synapse glitch?

      Delete
  16. The book looks incredible, can't wait to read. Congratulations, Annie. Hope you'll come back to LA for a reading at some point, as will alert everyone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I want to get to Los Angeles in the worst way. My brother lives there so I'm sure it won't be too long...

      Delete
    2. Oh, yes, I'll be fun to hear what you think of LA. No place else like it!

      Delete
  17. I have never been to Bulgaria,, but would like to visit, along with other Eastern European countries. Prague tops my list at the moment, and one of my sisters raves about Dubrovnik, Croatia. Five years ago we had the opportunity to move to Woody Creek, Colorado from Dallas, Texas, and living there was a wonderful interlude in our lives. An interlude because we knew we couldn't live there forever. We just moved back to Texas, and I am missing it -- even the snow -- and my daughter goes to college there, although she is currently in Florence studying design and architecture. She just visited Interlaken, Switzerland and said that she found her home there in the mountains. I'm hoping she'll come back!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to have to look up Woody Creek. My husband and I talk a lot about trying to manage a small chapter of our lives in Colorado so the boys can experience all the outdoor activities. The great thing about your kids discovering fabulous places is that you an always visit. Who knows, maybe you will all move to Interlaken! Thank you for sharing your story. Oh and do try to visit Dubrovnik. It is really magical. (Though I do think it's gotten pretty touristy since I was there ten years ago.)

      Delete
    2. I've only known one other friend who lived in Woody Creek--bet you know who that is! ANd what a sweet discovery your daughter made!

      Delete
  18. What an interesting post this AM. And yes. New England.Not deja vu, but a feeling of home. And I have no idea why. Or rather, I have lots of ideas but no answers.I grew up in NY farm country, and I always wanted to -and have for many years - live in a big city, but something about much of New England -city and country and shore and mountain - speaks to me. Always has. Because it was the first place I visited on my own? (Older cousins invited me to Boston when I was a teen and set me loose to explore ) Or because I read every book by Louisa May Alcott at an impressionable age? Or because it seemed to me older and deeper than any place else in the US? Or because I lived there for a few years after college? In high school I read a poem by Elinor Wylie called Puritan Sonnet -" I love the look of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones" and "autumn like a bonfire of leaves" and thought, "Yes." Maybe it IS deja vu?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree about Boston--in 1983, I was offered four different jobs. In Boston, in San Francisco, in Dallas and in Washington DC. And I visited each one, because I had to choose. I knew I adored Washington, and had lived there for four years in the past. But Boston-WOW. Instantly loved it.

      Delete
    2. Hi Triss, I'm sorry it looks like I accidentally replied to the wrong post below. I love the line "autumn like a bonfire of leaves." Also, I think it's huge that it was the first place you visited on your own. That brand new sense of independence is very powerful. I think it had a lot to do with why I ended up loving Eastern Europe. Thank you for telling me your story. (And introducing me to a poem I've never read but now want to check out!)

      Delete
  19. I'm going to have to look up Woody Creek. My husband and I talk a lot about trying to manage a small chapter of our lives in Colorado so the boys can experience all the outdoor activities. The great thing about your kids discovering fabulous places is that you an always visit. Who knows, maybe you will all move to Interlaken! Thank you for sharing your story. Oh and do try to visit Dubrovnik. It is really magical. (Though I do think it's gotten pretty touristy since I was there ten years ago.)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Congratulations on the new book, Annie! This is such an interesting thread today.
    I've always felt as though I was just slightly out of sync with time and place. In the past there were two occasions when I felt as though I had come home. Once in Sterling, Scotland. I was there with my then-husband and our small son. I felt as though I could have taken on a life in Sterling. Then, when I was divorced, the company I worked for sent me to New York for a training seminar. I was housed right off Times Sq. and when I walked the area one afternoon, I felt as though I was really "me" for the first time.
    Now, although I live in So. Cal., there's a small town north of San Francisco... well, you know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lyda, that's so fascinating! Very OUtlander.

      Delete
    2. I was thinking of Outlander too as soon as I started reading. I rented a cottage close to the Scottish border once with my husband and two sons, visiting the Lakes District and it was unbelievable. I think I could take on a life there too. You have lived some wonderful places. What an adventure! Thank you visiting with me Lyda :)

      Delete
  21. Annie, welcome to Jungle Reds! Did you meet your English husband at a party? Your book sounds intriguing! I am adding this book to my reading list. I had a feeling of deja vu when I visited Britain. I have never been to Bulgaria and would like to visit someday. When you lived in Bulgaria, could you walk everywhere? Whenever I visit Europe, I feel that I can walk everywhere. I have been to Europe, though not to the former Iron Curtain countries.

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true about walking! And it really immerses you...

      Delete
    2. Hello Diana, thank you, it's been a really fun morning. I met my English husband at a group dinner. I was in Macedonia visiting a friend who worked at the embassy and one of her co-workers invited us all out for a fish fry :-) When I lived in Sofia, yes, I could walk out my front door and go to the museum, palace, park, movies, farmers market- you name it. I never owned a car for five years and then when I came back to the States I moved to New York City so I was spoiled again with not needing a car. When I eventually moved back to my hometown in Kansas my mom refused to drive with me. She said I had forgotten how and was a terrible driver LOL.

      Delete
    3. Hello Annie, my great grandmother was born in Topeka, Kansas, and died in Indianapolis a few months after I was born. I have never been to Kansas nor to Indiana. I had been meaning to get my driver's license and it was delayed by years because I lived in D.C. where you could walk everywhere. No need for a car. And my travels to Europe, including studies abroad at Oxford, included a lot of walking. No need for a car either. That's wonderful that you met your husband at a dinner gathering. How wonderful that you could walk everywhere in Sofia.

      Delete
  22. Though I have sometimes felt so submerged in a book that the location seemed real to me, I have never actually come across a real place that gave me the same feeling as that described in a book. I imagine that would be rather fun to experience!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! And fictional places, too. I mean--we could find our way around Narnia, right? ANd Middle Earth? And Hogwarts, no problem. And Lyra's London.

      Delete
    2. Luckily you have the ability to get lost in your reading worlds. Not everyone can do that and it will fill your life with endless amazing adventures!

      Delete
  23. Congratulations Annie! There have been locales which I have visited which were meaningful and touched my heart. I know that I wouldn't settle there but the charm and feel of the place made me feel warm and I knew that I would return. There have been several small historic towns which I realized had that feel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you have many chances to visit those places that felt special :)

      Delete
  24. I'm quite intrigued with Eastern Europe, which has displaced my much earlier longing to visit Kabul, right after I saw "The Horseman."

    But most of all, I'm wondering where you live in Kansas. I grew up north of KCMO, and I've lived in Wichita twice, Huchinson once, Wetmore now and then because that's where my grandparents were from, and I was in OKC when the Murrah Building was bombed. This isn't something I often admit, so I'm whispering here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I know OKC isn't in Kansas. You can tell by the color of the red dirt.

      Delete
    2. I'm sorry that you were so close to that horrible tragedy. No need to whisper. I live south of Kansas City on the Kansas side. It's called Overland Park but really, we are so far to the south that we live just at the edge of where it all turns into rural countryside. It's three miles away from my parents and the same house where I was born. So hello fellow Kansan named Ann! Nice to meet you and thank you for sharing some of your story.

      Delete
    3. Oh I know Overland Park.

      Delete
  25. I have experienced both. Deja Vu for sure took place when I was younger and we visited a town where family lived and where we felt we belonged. Other places have given me this strange feeling as well. Beach towns that reflect another era are always a place where I feel most comfortable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The beach! Yes, magical. ANd what a good story you could write about that town!

      Delete
    2. I so love it when people say that yes, for sure they have experienced it. Your fist sentence there actually gave me goosebumps. What a fun memory :)

      Delete
  26. Annie, this book has come off the page and grabbed me, as has the blog. Yes, I do understand being the cuckoo egg in birthplace. I'm a Brit in US attire. Not a thing I can do about it. Simply born on the wrong side of the pond. If I ever disappear, look for me in the Lake Country. Not saying where though. Best of success with BEAUTIFUL BAD.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deborah Crombie, too. Even I thought she was a Brit!

      Delete
    2. I love the Lakes! My husband is from Liverpool and even though he is very happy here, he is undoubtedly quite British and we live a little bit of an Anglophile life here in Kansas. Luckily there is a British candy store not far away called Red Coats and plenty of pubs to watch the Liverpool games. If you ever disappear to the Lakes, I might see you there. We took our kids on vacation there a few years back and I have been dying to return ever since. Thank you for chatting!

      Delete
    3. Yes, I mean to set a book in Lakes someday!

      Delete
    4. I just went to your website and read your bio. I'm sorry, I hope that's not stalking. ;-) I just wanted to tell you-- aside from it being incredibly impressive--that I absolutely love this line... "She is an affionado of tea and cocktails, enjoys cooking and admiring her garden, reading, birdwatching, and playing with her dogs." What an exceptional way to enjoy life! Perfect.

      Delete
  27. Not quite "feeling at home in a place you've newly come to" (surely, the Germans must have a word for that) but I did several bookstore appearances in Vermont after tearing though five or six Archer Mayor novels. He sets his wonderful series in real places all around the Green Mountain State, and as I drove, I kept saying to myself - "Oh that's where Joe found a body" or "That's where Willy interviewed a witness." Honestly, I felt I could have navigated without a map, just from reading Archer's books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SO right about the German! Vergessenezuneuehausenkeit? Neuealteplatzeweissen?

      Delete
  28. Dear Julia, thank you for turning me on to a new mystery writer! I just looked up Archie Mayor and read an excerpt from the Tag Man. Great writing and sound like a wonderful series. I've never been to Vermont so maybe I can do some arm chair travels there myself with these books. (And hopefully visit one day too!)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Annie, your book sounds like such a great read. And, your living in Bulgaria as a young single woman is the adventure we all should have had in our young lives. I wish I had. Like Kait above, I often feel that I was born in the wrong country, with my obsession with Great Britain. I haven't yet traveled (physically) to England or Scotland or Wales, but in my reading, which is heavily British settings, I feel so at home in Devon or Cornwall or even the Hebrides of Peter May's writing. But, especially Devon, because that's where my Boone ancestors lived, and I am determined to visit there and the grave sites of my many-greats grandparents.

    And, reading Julia's comments above about pointing out places when traveling through a book setting area. Because of Julia's Clare and Russ series, a friend and I made a detour on our way to Niagara Falls to ride through some of the Adirondacks. It felt so surreal. And, having already been in love with Key West and visited there, Lucy's Haley Snow series set in Key West have been a complete delight, as I follow her to places I've actually been. With Debs' Gemma and Duncan, I have been lobbying for quite some time for a London trip led by Debs to the different settings that have captured my imagination.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is wonderful. I'm getting so many fun ideas for future reads and trips. I wonder if you also like to escape with films and television? Because my husband is English (but not only for that reason) we tend to watch mostly British program after the kids go to bed. There are so many that are just absolutely transporting. We went through a heavy Downton Abbey phase but because I love crime dramas I was also a huge fan of Broadchurch and Happy Valley. I hope you are able to go and visit Devon one day and if you do, you must promise to try the scones and clotted cream. They are famously the best in all of England! Thank you for chatting :)

      Delete
    2. Broadchurch! SO GREAT M total fave. And Happy Valley, and the Fall. And SO many! Annie, maybe we can get you two to lead a British TV blog post!

      Delete
    3. Annie, I do love British TV programs. Broadchurch was a favorite, and, of course, I was a fan of Downton Abbey. I haven't watched Happy Valley yet, mostly because I don't know if I want to see James Norton be a bad guy (so in love with him as a vicar, hahaha). However, I do enjoy the lead actress, Sarah Lancashire. Doc Martin was an absolute favorite, too, making me want to visit Port Isaac in Cornwall. The Crown has been interesting, and it introduced me to the subject of the Great Smog of London of 1952, which led me to a non-fiction book entitled Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City. I'm still reading that in bits and parts, but it's amazing the number of deaths that occurred.

      Delete
    4. That would be so fun! Although it would have to include my husband because his knowledge of British TV is crazily comprehensive, going back to some old comedy classics like FATHER TED. Does anyone know about that show? Sadly the main character and one of the funniest actors ever passed away quite young. COUPLING was very funny (but rude ;) and an oldie but goodie is PRIME SUSPECT (with the indomitable Helen Mirren!) It's definitely a fun topic and one that brings out the passion.

      Delete
    5. I’ve watched all of Father Ted over and over and over again. I now recite each episode, sorta like when we all did the same with Ricky Horror

      Delete
  30. Annie, where are you in Kansas? My best friend lives in Stillwell, and I try to visit once or twice a year. She says I have to come the first of June this year, when her garden is at its best.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Oops, should have read all the previous comments:-) My friend used to live in Overland Park:-)

    ReplyDelete
  32. What a fun post today, and lovely to meet you, Annie. I'm fascinated by your stories of your life in Sofia. I'd love to visit Eastern Europe, especially Prague. But obviously I have a deja vu type affinity for the UK. The first time I set foot in England I felt I had lived there forever. Still do, after many years. London is my favorite city in the world, I never tire of it, and every time I have to leave, it's wrenching. But as much as love many parts of Britain, I have a special little quirk for the Scottish Highlands, the Speyside area. Maybe a past life!

    And weirdly, I have a thing for LA. Whenever I go there, it makes my heart sing. No idea why.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it's true , Debs, I totally thought you were a Brit. Do you hear that from fans?

      And Annie, are you doing a book tour in Kansas?

      Delete
    2. I used to have play dates in Stillwell when I was little. A lot of my friends lived in a neighborhood called Berry Hill. I was thinking a bit about Stillwell and Spring Hill (an adjacent town) when I created my fictional little Kansas neighborhood where the books kicks off with a terrible crime. You should recommend it to your friend. Maybe we could find a way for me to sign a copy for you while you are visiting in June? I've been to London twice, once as a teenager and once last year. The first visit I was very intimidated. This year, I had the best time! I took my kids and it just seemed like a cleaner, happier more festive city than I remembered. Then again, the weather was beautiful and I think it stormed during my previous visit. As for LA, I liked living in Venice and Santa Monica but once I moved to Hollywood for film school I started to really get annoyed by LA traffic. I think my heart might sing in Los Angeles if I never had to drive :) Thank you for chatting!

      Delete
    3. Hi again Hank, I'm not sure if you would call it a tour... I have a launch event next Tuesday here in KC, a couple of events in Chicago and then about four events the following month in Missouri. I have met some Kansas book store owners who asked about me coming to visit and doing something small and once things calm down after the publication date I will get in touch with them. Is it a tour if I'm just driving out with my family? :-D

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete

    5. Absolutely! ANd even better. Cannot wait to see photos of your launch! YAY! ANd so exciting.

      Delete
  33. Although I'm a life-long Californian, Troutbeck in the English Lake District filled my soul with sunshine and made my heart sing in a profound way I haven't experienced in travels around much of the world. It felt like homecoming. My British ancestors calling to me?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is so interesting because if you were to go back and read through all these comments you would see that the stand-out place that so many people love is the Lake District. I had never heard of it before my husband suggested we take our summer vacation there a few years ago with our little boys. It was one of our best trips ever and we stayed in an honest to goodness castle. (Just in one little area but it was an awesome adventure.)

      Delete
  34. Interesting concept. I'll definitely have to think about it.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I did feel a connection in Switzerland and Germany. In the Bavarian Museum, a display of farmers' furniture had some similar to ones my grandmother had. When I was in England and Scotland, so many places seemed familiar from all the mysteries, romances, histories, and TV shows. Hey, there's a fete, a cricket match, where Mary Queen of Scots lived, etc. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York also had many places that I had seen on TV. Now that I don't travel anymore, I just say "I was there" when I see a place from my travels on TV.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you have so many happy memories from a life-time of travel. "I was there" is so much more fun than, I wasn't there, isn't it? And now you can discover new places through books and shows. Thank you for telling me a little about your life. Have a nice night Sally.

      Delete
    2. Exactly! ANd that is so sweet about the furniture..does't it give you chills? xoxo

      Delete
  36. Congratulations on the book Annie, it sounds like a fascinating read! What a great interview with you, much fun reading all your comments...your personal warmth really shines through.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Helen- THANK YOU! That meas a lot to me. I had a great day. I felt like I was talking to a lot of book, travel and animal lovers-- all my kind of people. It was fun!

      Delete
  37. To everyone at Jungle Red Writers, thank you for having me as your guest today! I loved getting to know some of you and hearing life stories from many others. Now that I feel like a part of the community you will be hearing from a lot more. To Hank, that was so fun and I LOVED the article you write about the book. You chose all the rights photos and said so many flattering things. I'm so thrilled Michael Barson put us in touch. Talk soon, Hank and warm wishes to all the JungleReds :) (If you missed out I will check the chat one more time tonight but I have to get my kids ready for bed now so g'night for now!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw...you are fabulous! I am just back from a book club meeting--where they read TRUST ME! And I am all aglow. Dearest Annie, best of luck with your truly terrific book. You are so generous, and such a joy. And you are welcome at Jungle Red any time! Love love love. Kep us posted--we want to hear all about the next book, and we are ALL going to the movie together!

      Delete
  38. AND THE WINNERS ARE: Charlotte and Cathy Akers-Jordan! YAAAYYY! email me your addresses to h ryan at whdh dot com!

    ReplyDelete