Vacations and Home by Jen Cervantes June Theme

Sometimes vacations help you find your way home...
A few years ago, (I refer to this period as my pre-writing life), I thought it would be a magnificent experience to live in another country for a month with my three girls. So off we went to San Miguel de Allende. We spent our days at a language institute learning Spanish and our nights strolling down cobblestone streets, and soaking in the culture and life of this vibrant colonial town. This magical place is filled with riches, old stone buildings, extraordinary homes hidden behind mysterious gates, and a haunting flavor that is hard to describe. Fast forward many years (to my writerly life) and a whole book has been built around this place. Here is a paragraph from the first page of my latest work.
“The town sits on the edge of a river whose sparkling purple and green stones are so bright beneath the water they look like they’ve been dipped in melted crayon. On the other side of town is an arroyo whittled away by rain, wind, and time, so wide it looks as if the earth is yawning. Some people say they can even hear mysterious sighs coming from the steep gully once all the water is gone.
In town, there are narrow crooked alleys that often lead to dark places and dead ends. But the brightly painted houses practically smile at passersby and are stacked so close together you could lean out your window and touch your neighbor’s house without having to stretch. The cobblestone streets are uneven and make you feel a little off balance unless you’re from here and in that case you’d have strong ankles and walk with a lean.”
My first book TORTILLA SUN was certainly inspired by my time in Santa Fe (another month-long visit). Is there a pattern here? So it is no surprise then that setting plays such an instrumental role in all my writing—it is the “thing” I need to know first—before character or plot. It is what inspires me.
I am getting ready to venture off to Rome and the Amalfi Coast in a couple of days (wish it was for a month); I have NO DOUBT another story will find me while I am there it will find me in the patterned shadows alongside the Vatican, in the mysticism of Mt. Vesuvius, in the ashes of Pompeii, and in the distant echoes of the Colosseum. There is a story already there in Italy, waiting to be brought to life.
I have been blessed to have experienced some amazing places in my lifetime and to share them with those I love most. It is in these places that I have found my way home, to a life of writing, a life I might not otherwise have ever discovered.

 And for that I am so very grateful!


  1. I LOVE books that have a kind of palpable setting...Books in which the location actually becomes a central character!


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