June Theme: VACATION AS INSPIRATION by Irene Latham

  I have said before that one of the reasons I love being a writer is that it gives me an excuse to travel.

For DON'T FEED THE BOY, I have visited zoos as far away from me and as renowned as San Diego Zoo, and I have spent a good deal of time enjoying my home zoo, The Birmingham Zoo, which is also completely awesome and certainly achieves its mission of "inspiring passion for the natural world."

During my research, I learned that the very first zoo I went to was the London  Zoo, where I saw my first live elephant (pictured). And of course, an elephant plays heavily in the story of DON'T FEED THE BOY!

 We also visited an aviary. And who arrived in my story, but the Bird Girl! She comes every day to the zoo to escape her chaotic home life and draw birds.

Coincidence? Maybe. But I like to think those vacations are buried in my subconscious, just waiting for my writer-self to come along and reveal them. (I'm the girl in the pink skirt hanging onto the fence sort of like my brothers, but without the wild abandon.)

Another example: Here's a picture of me and my two older brothers at a crocodile farm in Thailand. (See how Vanna White-ish I'm holding that python's tail?)

In DON'T FEED THE BOY, there's Big Snake Day where guests help keepers measure Pete the reticulated python. Oh, and there's a snake escape!

One more not-necessarily-coincidence: I learned in letters my mother wrote home to her mother while we were living overseas, that my favorite zoo animal was the giraffe.

Guess what main character Whit's favorite animal is?

Yep. Giraffe! (I didn't read the letters until after I wrote the book.)

So, yes, being a writer is a great excuse to travel after the idea. But travel can also provide the source of ideas.

Wishing all of you inspirational travel this summer!


  1. So true, Irene--there's something about seeing a place for the first time that's just so inspiring!

  2. There is something about being away from the every day places that tickles the imagination. Love the python pic.


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