Greetings and Salutations Internet!
Today I have the joy of bringing to you a guest post from Valerie Thomas who is the co-author of the book From What I Remember along with Stacey Kramer. I was thrilled when Valerie wanted to do a guest post here on Ticket to Anywhere and when asked for a topic I immediately thought of Mexico. From What I Remember is a road trip book that lands the main characters in a place called Ensenada, Mexico. Any regular reader of this blog knows that I love seeing where books take me to and so what better way to explore that then in having the author talk about why they chose the setting they did. So without further ado, here is Valerie Thomas:
In our most recent book FROM WHAT I REMEMBER, the bulk of the story takes place in Ensenada, Mexico, and a lot of people have asked us how we came up the idea to set the story there, and why. When we were conceiving of the idea for the book, we knew we wanted Kylie and Max to end up in a foreign country together, with no passports, and the only country that made any sense that borders the US was Mexico. It’s not all that interesting to end up in Canada, after all. And other countries would have required either a boat trip or a plane trip, neither of which would have worked, given that they needed to be stuck inside a vehicle, not knowing where they were headed, unable to get out, but not so far away that they had no chance of making it home for graduation. So…Mexico it was.
Next we needed to decide where in Mexico the story should be set, and once again, logistics won out over other considerations. At first we thought we might have Kylie and Max be from Tucson or somewhere in Texas, both of which are close enough to Mexico to work. But when we researched the Mexican towns that are near these borders, none of them seemed to have the advantages of Ensenada. We wanted a Mexican locale that offered a romantic and charming experience to enhance the story. So…La Jolla and Ensenada it was. Not only is Ensenada not too far over the California border, it’s a beautiful town on the beach.
Our next challenge was to get the feel of Ensenada right. Stacy had been to Ensenada years ago, and Valerie had spent time in other parts of Mexico, but neither of us had a real grasp on the place. We did a lot of research with books and on the Internet to establish what the general parameters of the town are. For example, we learned about the curved harbor that fronts the town as well as the high hills that ring it. We learned that there are in fact several buses from Ensenada to San Diego every day, and we researched the procedures at the border to make sure we got it right. We felt like we needed to be accurate with these larger points, but the smaller details of Ensenada in the book are all largely made up by us. We created the central plaza, and the tiny alleyways that Max and Kylie wander down. We invented the dress shop where Kylie buys her wedding dress, and we created Manuel’s bar and his home in the hills.
The festival of St. John the Baptist, in which people douse one another with water and jump in the sea, actually does occur, in June, when our story takes place. But we invented the notion that couples take part in a mass wedding on the piers while downing tequila. We’re both huge foodies so we wanted to make sure there was mention of a lot of good Mexican food in the book – soft tacos, stewed goat, fish stew, sangria. These are all foods we’ve eaten and adore and were happy to put them in the book.
We loved spending so much time in our heads in Mexico, and we both have tremendous affection for the place now. We have yet to go there since writing the book, but it’s a pilgrimage that we should absolutely take. And while we’re there, we will eat tripe tacos!!!
Note: all images used in this post were found via a google search for Enscenada, Mexico.