|Roses in my garden|
This month’s topic here at Rogue Women Writers is how vacations or the lazy days of summer feed our muse. Summer plays havoc with a thriller writer, or at least it does for me. Gone are the dark, cold days that lend themselves to equally dark, exciting thrillers. Now the days are long, sunny, and mellow. When I’m not taking long runs on the lakefront I’m riding my vintage Raleigh bicycle to errands and taking a nightly walk through the neighborhood after dinner.
By the way, the Raleigh is one of my favorite finds. It had been housed in someone’s attic, was dripping with cobwebs and the tires had rotted. It had all original parts and a vintage headlamp that worked off of friction. This bike is steel, heavy and built to last. The hub was dated March, 1974. It was love at first sight. I took it home, added new tires, and cleaned it up. It rides like a dream, and while it only has three speeds it beats my faster, lighter racing bike for charm and practicality. I use it daily. (Picture below).
When you live in Chicago you find yourself longing for these days, because there’s nothing that matches Chicago in the summer. I’ve lived in New York City, Miami Beach and Tampa and while all have their charms during the rest of the year, in the summer they have a decidedly different vibe than Chicago. Miami Beach is so hot that it feels like a blowtorch on your back and the gorgeous beach that I long for in December sizzles so much that I can’t walk on the sand. New York’s vibrant throb slows on the weekends, when everyone flees up north to their homes in the Berkshires, Poconos, or, if loaded with cash, the Hamptons. Or at least it felt that way when I lived there as a student with no funds to go anywhere.
|Vintage 1974 Raleigh bicycle. Attic find.|
But one thing summer does grant a writer is time. The long days lend themselves to more writing. I usually have some of my most fruitful ideas during my summer runs, when it’s early morning and I’m working through a knotty plotting problem or letting my mind wander to a new premise.
I also find ideas in the music of summer. Every year I head to Lollapalooza, Chicago’s massive music festival. It’s held in Grant Park, which is only about five miles down the lakefront from my house, and it’s four days of some of the most interesting music around. Three hundred thousand people attend. The music ranges from hip hop to country to blues to rock and just being in the presence of other artists feeds my own creative muse. I usually ride down along the lake, chain up the bike, and when the headliner finishes I avoid the inevitable traffic gridlock by riding home. I’ve seen Jack White (amazing in concert), Alabama Shakes, St Paul and The Broken Bones, The 1975, Paul McCartney (also amazing), the Kongos, Chance the Rapper, the Red Hot Chili Peppers… the list goes on and on. I leave buoyed by the creativity of others.
I’m in the new premise phase now. With one manuscript completed and working on the final pass pages for another, I know that the time to start writing the next is near. I sit in my yard and sip ice tea while thinking about what I want to start. One thing I’m never short of is ideas. I have a dozen good ones to choose from, but I can’t write a dozen at one time. Decisions have to be made. If you’re writing, you know what I mean. If only we could write more and faster!
I already have a pretty good idea of which story I want to pick up next, though. I’ll write a short premise log line and head to New York City to meet with my agent to discuss it and to attend the International Thriller Writers’ Thrillerfest conference in July. I’ve gone to this conference every year since it started and I love it. Like Lolla, I usually leave Thrillerfest buzzing with ideas and renewed energy. I’ll have a drink with my editors, agent, and, of course, the Rogue Women Writers, and I’ll talk nothing but books for four days. Pure bliss.
After Thrillerfest you won’t hear from me much. I’ll head to Lolla, watch a few plays at the amazing theaters here in Chicago, and head to a late August vacation. In the meantime though, I hope the joys of these warm days and nights make you smile.
Best, Jamie Freveletti