People often say travel broadens you. It opens your mind and your heart to new ideas, exposes you to different cultures and people, and tends to make you more accepting of differences.
For me, travel is also inspiring—literally. When I travel, I often get new ideas for stories and novels. These can be sparked by people I see and meet, buildings, streets, forests, coastlines—just about anything.
I recently returned from a visit to Prague and the Czech Republic. If you have been, you’ll know how beautiful that capital city is. If you haven’t been, you should put it on your list of places to visit.
Prague itself is an arrangement of architecture that, for at least 700 years, has intended to embrace the current styles, yet fit in with the established buildings. As one of the travel guides points out, you can stand in the Old Square and see architecture of the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Art Deco periods. And you don’t have to walk far to find later examples — the Cubist house of the Black Madonna is just steps from the square.
At least in the centre of the city, it’s hard to find a building that’s strictly functional—almost all are beautiful in some way.
Walking through a city that’s new to me gets my imagination going. It’s easy to think of the beginnings of stories, more like dramatic situations. But in Prague, I came up with more of a feeling or a theme than a plotline. The juxtaposition of buildings from every era of the past 700 years points to a Prague characteristic: its continual embracing of the modern while honouring, and making full use of tradition.
It brought to mind a kind of story of two people in a relationship, who are both trying to solve the same problem: one from a 21st-century approach, based in science and technology; and the other taking an older, more traditional perspective informed by psychology and religion.
I don’t know what the problem will be, yet, nor what the plot points are. But I have the characters worked out. And it will definitely be set in Prague.