Friday, February 24, 2012

Travel Traumas "Come and Find Me"

RHYS BOWEN: We Jungle Reds have had a lot to celebrate recently, including Hallie Ephron's nomination for the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark award, to be presented during Edgars week at the beginning of May. And now we're celebrating with Hallie today because her nominated book, COME AND FIND ME, is coming out in paperback and will be at stores near you on February 28th.

Hallie is also a great traveler, so it seemed only fitting that she step into today's travel spotlight.

Take it away, Hallie! We're raising our champagne glasses to you.

HALLIE EPHRON: Raising my glass back at you Rhys! Rhys Bowen's NAUGHTY IN NICE is nominated for an Audie award for best audio book!

Back to... Thank you! Thank you!

Is the new cover cool or what? Clink, clink, clink, all around. (Some of you have heard me talk about how important it is to celebrate. I'm CELEBRATING!)

This week's posts on travel got me thinking...
Travel can be exciting. Sometimes too exciting. My trip to Barcelona was like that. I got mugged. (Doesn't everyone get mugged in Barcelona?)

I was standing on a street corner near the famous Ramblas and a man came running up from behind me, grabbed the strap of my shoulder bag, and threw me to the ground. He got my purse, but fortunately I had my passport in a pouch around my neck and a spare asthma inhaler in my suitcase. Best of all my two kids were across the street so they didn't see it happen.

I was badly bruised, but fortunately nothing was broken. What really got shaken was my travel confidence. I'd always felt comfortable venturing out into unfamiliar places. All of a sudden, not so much. In crowds, in particular.

When I was writing "Come and Find Me" I was channeling some of that residual fear. I hope never to have a travel trauma like my character, Diana Highsmith. Her lover fell to his death when they were ice climbing in the Alps. Ever since, she's become intensely agoraphobic -- just opening her front door to the UPS deliver man can trigger a panic attack.

When her sister goes missing, Diana has to get up the courage to leave her house. The only way she manages to leave her safe world is by taking on the persona of her avatar -- a cyberspace character she created who is the embodiment of her former fearless self.

If you got mugged in Barcelona, raise your hand!

So today's travel question: Any travel traumas in your past, and any tips for getting over the residual fear (short of dressing up as Wonder Woman)?


  1. I LOVE the new cover - although I think the other one was pretty cool too. Not mugged in Barcelona (where I ate far too much of that vermicelli-like dish that starts with an "f"...Hallie??)

    Nasty experience in Naples though. In car, waiting to get on highway and a kid on a motorcycle smashed the rear passenger window with a brick, stole my new Italian handbag and drove off while we, of course were in a long line of cars pointed in the opposite direction. Drove to Positano with bits of glass in my hair and a howling noise from the shattered window. Good news is that when we got to Le Sirenuse they gave us champagne and the best room in the house

  2. Breaking an ankle in Ireland has to rank up there, although I cam away with a lot of useful knowledge about Irish health care and hospitals (both good, but not enough to go around).

    I also had my purse stolen in London--from a locked room on the third floor, while I was in the shower on the floor below (the thief had to have crawled through an open window facing the street). The upside was that a delightful and sympathetic bobby with a Scottish accent took all the information. The wallet did reappear several months later, minus cash but with other documents intact.

  3. Oh, Ro, that's awful. Reminds me of when we were driving to the San Fernando Valley across Coldwater Canyon and our car window imploded, shattering glass all over our daughter. The police said someone with an air rifle was targeting cars. Thank heaven for safety glass.

  4. Sheila, that was AWFUL! When you're sick or injured there's no place lke home...

  5. Hallie I too love the cover. Super.
    We've had bags stolen and the experiences have just made me angry, not afraid. After the slick theft in Prague I was all set to go back to the same train, next day, and stab the guy as he sat opposite me. John reminded me that the contents of the bag were not worth a Prague jail term.

  6. Best of luck, Hallie and Rhys!

    Knock wood, but I have not had too many bad travel experiences. The worst was being the only seasick passenger on a small boat in the Galapagos. It was okay on the smooth days, but two of the four nights were in rough seas, and I was literally green. Fortunately, the steward had magic pills that worked very quickly. The Sea Bands did nothing for me, by the way.

    A much older friend was robbed of her wallet in the Charles deGaulle airport, coming home from my first trip to Europe. We all watched and didn't realize that the nice men helping her were actually helping themselves to her money.

    I'd have to say that my husband making me sleep in the car on a trip a couple years ago was the worst. I was spitting mad, too. Don't think that will ever happen again.

  7. Ro, that dish is called "fideo," if it's the one I know. Never been to Spain.

    Hallie and Rhys, clinking my champagne glass with yours in celebration of your award nominations and Hallie's book coming out in paperback! Great cover!

    I've been lucky when I've traveled usually. I like to think it's because I'm such a listmaking over-preparer, trying to foresee every problem and solve it ahead of time. But there was the time my husband and I visited Iowa City because he was being interviewed for a job at the university. I fell down two short flights of cement stairs in the dark and broke my knee, not to mention lots of other bruises and abrasions. Nothing like checking into the emergency room at the place that's considering hiring your husband! I'm such an asset!

    It's very interesting. My captcha has a heart beginning one of the words. I have no idea how to recreate the heart in text, so will have to get another, though I so appreciate the comment, Captcha!

  8. Ouch, Linda!

    That reminded me of a trip with my then-boyfriend (now husband) on one of his lecture tours around the US. This one was in Florida in the winter, so I joined him. And contracted a raging bladder infection in Lakeland, in the middle of the night, of course. Had to take myself to the ER for treatment, borrowing Steve's car, and figuring out where the hospital was based on directions from the sleepy desk clerk.

    That trip did not turn out as we expected!

    A heart, really? The captcha thing is so weird.

  9. Fideo! That's right. Thanks, Linda. That was the trip where I also learned to love cava, the Spanish version of prosecco.

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  11. Hey, LOVE the new cover!And as for travel, Hallie--you had to travel through uncharted territory in Come and Find Me..the world of avatars!

    What was that like? Sounds so scary in the book.

  12. Yeah, traveling with avatars: BUCKLE THE SEATBELT ON YOUR DESK CHAIR! What's amazing is that in "Second Life"--the real cyberspace world that I base the novel's OtherWorld on, just about every place you'd ever go as a tourist is recreated. Take a gondola ride down the virtual Grand Canal; climb Machu Pichu. In Come and Find Me Diana ice climbs the Eiger and sits on a gorgeous beach on the Big Island of Hawaii (before "griefers" come barreling out of the sand) all without leaving home.

  13. Oh Karen, that belongs in a novel. Paris airport. Smooth talking French men help a tourist... I wonder what the French word is for THRILLER!

  14. Amazing! I have never had fideo. Note to self: NEXT TIME!

    Karen - ouch! (I was in Lakeland just last winter for a library book festival. The NICEST people. And Lakeland is the most darling town. We ate unmemorable but cheap Greek food.)

  15. Hallie, it really is a sweet place, and we met the nicest people there, too.

    We've been there twice, stayed at the same hotel, and ended up in the same room, oddly enough. Thank goodness I also didn't have to go to the ER in the dead of night.

  16. Love the new cover, Hallie! And you know I love the book! Dare anyone to put it down after the first page...

    Travel traumas? Severe food poisoning when alone in flat in London. Did you know you can actually get a doctor that makes house calls? With his black bag? It was that or the ER.

    Book tour over four cities in Germany with horrible case of respiratory flu. Then got stuck in Hanover due to ash cloud from the blankety-blank (because I can't spell it) Icelandic volcano.

    But the very worst? Arriving in the UK on the morning of 9/11, although it hadn't yet happened, of course. Only found out that evening when I went from my B&B to a local restaurant in Rye, Surrey, for dinner. No communication with family or friends in the US for the next week. No knowing if everyone was okay, what would happen, if I would ever get home. I didn't have the support network in the UK then that I have now. Have never felt so frightened and alone...

  17. Oh, Deb - I remember those days. 9/11 was a trauma that put me off traveling for years, literally. The idea I wouldn't be able to get back and see my kids did me in.

  18. Congratulatory glass held high, toasting Hallie and Rhys for current nominations! And Hallie's new paperback edition with new cover. Proud as punch. (Now wherever did that saying come from? Punch & Judy?)

    My travel mishaps run from the mildly inconvenient to the ALMOST-tragedy. No broken parts, no hospital stays, no attacks upon my person. None in Barcelona, haven't been there yet. And now I am forewarned.

    In India my taxi was surrounded by a crowd at a political rally whipped into a frenzy. The mob tried to turn the car over, but we managed to get outta there.

    I was once delirious with fever in India for a few days, but it passed.

    A Thai guesthouse didn't want to return passports and camera put into their safe. Claims of no English and no key. But it wasn't a key-opening safe and we weren't leaving without our passports.

    A departing flight delay gave airline agents time to rob from my suitcases in then-called Bombay (Mumbai).

    Worst of all was a break-up/divorce in Paris. My (now-ex) husband stayed for his job, and I left, crushed. Paris. My Paris. Sigh.

    Frankly I had to ponder to remember the bad stuff. All the wonderful travel experiences dominate my memories.

  19. Avi:
    My (now-ex) husband stayed for his job, and I left, crushed. Paris. My Paris. Sigh.

    A short story in 15 words.

  20. Thought I posted this on my lunch break but I just got home from work and discovered that it is still in my Kindle screen. And I thought I had passed the captcha test! If this ends up posting twice,please forgive me!

    My "Traumatic" moments have mostly happened near home - such as getting mugged, along with a coworker, while walking to our cars after work one night. So much for safety in numbers. This was my first job after graduating from college, my introduction to The Big Bad World Out There.

    Several of my relatives and I shared some exciting moments at a motel where we stayed while attending another relative's wedding in NJ in 1985. My mom and I went down the afternoon before the wedding. I had to be at the rehearsal. Check-in time was 2:30. We arrived at 3. A desk clerk gave us our room keys and directed us to the room that we were sharing. When we got to the room the maid was only just beginning to clean it; the beds were unmade,etc. We said "oh,we thought our room was ready." She said "Yeah? So?" So. WE returned to the desk, one of the clerks apologized and said that she would ask the maid how long it would be before the room would be ready. The clerk returned and reported that it would be about half an hour. The manager apologized and made a vague comment about being a new motel and "having problems." Around half an hour when it was still not ready the desk clerk made us each a cup of tea.

    While we were drinking our tea,we overheard the clerk and another talking about trying to track down some former employees whose W2 forms had been returned by the post office. (This was in February.) The second clerk remembered that one of the maids was related to one of those former employees,and she called the woman to see if she could provide a forwarding address. We heard her end of the conversation, which was more or less "oh; oh. I see. Oh." She hung up and told the other clerk that the cousin said the former employee was in jail in VA,awaiting trial for killing his roommate. Oh.

    The next night,after returning from the wedding with some more relatives who had arrived from CT,most of us decided to go out for coffee at a diner down the street from the motel. The husband and five year old son of one of my sisters went to bed.

    The next morning we all met in the dining room for the Continental breakfast (NOT included.)

    The sister whose husband and son had not come to the diner with us told us that when she got back to her room the night before she tried to be quiet becuase hubby and son were sleeping and she fumbled around in the dark to find a light swtch. Hubby woke up and sharply asked "who's there?" She laughed and said "it's me; who were you expecting?" He mumbled something about talking about it in the morning. Th next morning he told her that right after he and their son went to bed,someone started to climb through the window! When he demanded to know what was going on, someone responded "never mind"and told some associates/accomplices "not THIS room",shut the window and left. My brother in law called the front desk and was told "Sorry. We've been having problems".

    Regarding the continental breakfast:the milk was sour,the butter was rancid,the coffee was lukewarm...The manager told us "sorry. We'e been having problems."My mom was pretty angry and mentioned that WE as a family had been having problems ever since arriving there and that she was especially upset about the break in at her daughter's room, and that there should be some sort of compensation. She also mentioned that it was a good thing my sister was not there when the break in happened,as she was quite pregnant and things might have gotten"interesting".He didn't charge my sister's family for the breakfast!

    Deb Romano

  21. Sounds like an expensive breakfast, Deb... You sure it wasn't the Bates Motel?

  22. One time in Oxford I sprained my ankle when I tripped on a cobblestone crossing the street to catch the bus back to Heathrow.

    My bus to the airport was stuck for hours before a Robbie Williams concert, reputedly the biggest UK pop concert ever, caused a huge traffic jam on the A1 when an estimated 130,000 cars tried to reach the venue.

    I was late for my plane, but so was everyone else. All I had to do was run up that awful ramp at Heathrow - ever been there(?) I got a good seat, though, because blood was dripping down my leg and the flight attendant saw it and offered me one in the... what is it called? Bulkhead?

    It was a good flight and trip back to Boston, however traumatic. Did I mention there was a delay somewhere, I think it was in Iceland, while we waited forever to board while they were "fixing something." Same attendant told me nothing was broken really, just a can of kerosene and a struck match, but "... they took care of it." That was the trip when I learned all those swear words from the Icelandic fishermen.