Ellen Jensen Abbot is the author of Watersmeet, and the soon to be released follow-up, The Centaur’s Daughter. Though protagonist Abisina spends a lot of the novel travelling, I don’t think she would consider her journey to be a vacation. She does get to visit the fairy Motherland, so she at least gets to see some exotic locales. Let’s see what Ellen has to say about her vacations.
[Manga Maniac Café] Can you share your favorite vacation memory?
[Ellen Jensen Abbott] Riding a mule into the Grand Canyon in August. It was so hot, they hosed us off at lunch time—and you couldn’t say no! Within an hour, we were all dry again—even our jeans—because of the hot, dry air. It’s alarming and thrilling to ride a mule down the twisting narrow pathways into the canyon. When you stop, you are told to turn your mule face out, so that you and Tinker (that was my mule’s name; my husband’s was called Judd) are looking into space. The wrangler pointed out that you would rather have the mule-end with eyes facing the fall rather than the butt end! At the bottom, we stayed at Phantom Ranch and cooled off in tributaries of the Colorado River. For dinner, everyone got an enormous steak—again, no choice. I have no idea what the vegetarian’s did! The southwest and the canyon have an incredible, stark beauty. As someone who grew up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, it was mind boggling—and memorable.
[Manga Maniac Café] What is your least favorite vacation experience and why?
[Ellen Jensen Abbott] A friend and I were on a rail pass in Europe while we were in college. She was studying in France, and I was studying in England, and we took spring break together traveling through Italy, France, Austria and Germany. We ended up in Salzburg, Austria—which everyone had told us would be our favorite city—on Easter weekend. Everything was closed: stores, restaurants, tourist sites. We stayed in a youth hostel (youth hostile!) that seemed more like a frat house. It played a continuous loop of The Sound Of Music (filmed in Salzburg), and the room it played in was usually full of a crowd of drunk American college students. Our Easter dinner was at Pizza Hut, I got food poisoning, and I spent the night sitting on the dirtiest floor and throwing up into the dirtiest toilet in Salzburg. That weekend, the hills were NOT alive with the sound of music!
[Manga Maniac Café] If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
[Ellen Jensen Abbott] There are so many places I want to go! Alaska, Turkey (I have a book idea that I want to research there), the Lake District in England, Greece, Rome, the tidal country of India…But my favorite place on earth is Squam Lake in New Hampshire. I grew up there. My dad ran a summer resort so I spent my summer’s playing in the woods, climbing mountains, and swimming in a lake that was so clean, it passed drinkability tests. If anyone has seen the movie On Golden Pond, it was filmed on this lake.
I also met my husband there. His family has been going to this resort for over 50 years. We met when I was 3 and he was 8, though it took a long time for us to decide that we were going to be life-partners! Now my kids have also grown up on Squam, and they play with the children of people I played with.
The land in both Watersmeet and The Centaur’s Daughter is based on northern New Hampshire, but it is how I saw the forests, lakes and mountains as a child: everything is bigger, more rugged, more beautiful, and clearer than how I see it now as an adult. I want to see other parts of the world, of course, but if I could only choose one place to visit again, it would be Squam Lake.
[Manga Maniac Café] What 5 items do you pack first?
[Ellen Jensen Abbott] 1) Whatever I’m reading—and then the next book I want to read. (And maybe the next, just in case!)
2) My lap-top—sad, but true
(The items in 3-4 are the order my drawers are in. I always pack according to the order of my drawers so I don’t forget anything! It usually works.)
[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!
Watersmeet is available now, and The Centaur’s Daughter is available for pre-order. You can order both books by clicking the handy widget below.
Vacation Reads Reading Challenge!
The summer reading season is here! Don’t forget to sign up for the Vacation Reads Reading Challenge, which I am co-hosting with Ruby from Ruby’s Reads. You can win some awesome prizes, for something that you are going to do anyway! Click here and here for more information.