Holiday is frequently a bestseller in the Amazon charts and began as an idea the day I booked a trip to the United States. I love travel writers Bill Bryson and Lois Pryce and I also love female comedy: Jenny Eclair, Bridget Jones and Sue Townsend are among my favourites. I wanted to combine the two styles of writing: comedy and travel writing.
When I booked the trip my three children, then 19, 16 and 11 weren’t excited. I was astonished by the response from my 16 year old son and 11 year old daughter. They didn’t want to leave friends and end of term events and so that put a huge damper on the lead up to the trip when excitement should be mounting. But every negativity is a golden opportunity for a writer and makes for a great story.
Armed with pens and notebooks the book began the morning we left for Gatwick when my son refused to get up unless I bought him WH Smith meal deal. Standing in his doorway the scene was both humiliating and funny, it had to go in the book.
Airports and scenes from planes are interesting in travel books. Here’s one scene:
“The plane descends above a landscape of lakes and golf courses into Minneapolis where we wait for two hours. We’re amazed to see iPads fixed to every table and along the bars of the restaurant.”
And descending over Salt Lake City in Utah, home of the Mormon community:
“The terrain looks like a skin disease, parched and arid. I see a lake, speckled hills, desert and the Wasatch mountain range flanks the city.” “The houses look like custard cream slices and the warehouses look like clumps of staples.”
Driving from Salt Lake City up to Yellowstone I stopped every so often to write notes, describing the landscape and also noting down daft things the kids said. “Don’t say anything,” they frequently warned each other, “She’ll only write it down and put it in one of her books.”
Here’s a scene from Idaho Falls:
“A sign for Idaho Falls looms ahead. I expect a waterfall and a great photo opportunity but the land is as flat and uninspiring as a roadkill cat. As we drive closer it’s anything but idyllic. It looks as if we’ve arrived in purgatory, it’s the type of place where people would want to kill themselves. We pass a trickle of tatty huts that look like a South African township. A spider’s web of heavy industry creeps along the horizon.”
In the story the children conspire and Lyn, the lead character gets a massive shock at Gatwick when she discovers that they have invited their father to join them on the trip. Now the dysfunctional five must muddle along. ‘Holiday’ is a journey into family lies and secrets and there are arguments as well as healing. This idea was inspired by several holidays with one of my ex partners. It’s not a pleasant experience and isn’t supposed to be but when you have young children it can be good in a practical sense because it means that you can have a break and take yourself off somewhere nice while he minds the kids. When my kids were young I went with their father to Majorca. We were long separated by then. He slept in the long, I had one of the bedrooms. One morning I got up, went in the lounge and he was asleep with his hairy bottom on display! Not a pleasant scene! We did end up in a few arguments, resulting in him hurling plates around the room! And the John Cleese style scene in ‘Holiday’ when Ray crushes the sat nav really did happen.
I hope you enjoy ‘Holiday’ as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s a journey through Utah, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming as it really is, through my eyes and it’s also a journey into the struggles of single parenthood and dealing with ex partners.
Here’s the link: