For the first time in my book touring life, I am going on a “road trip” instead of flying, training, busing, and rental carring.
The Danika Road Trip is a special kind of road trip. Be forewarned when travelling with me. If I see a sign in Nebraska for the Pony Express Station or in Arizona for indigenous cliff dwellings, I will make a spontaneous side trip. World’s largest ball of twine? I’m there.
If I get off schedule, I will drive until I can’t drive any more and sleep in my car. I bring camping gear in case there’s a mesa I have to climb and get tuckered out. I WILL take the scenic route if one is offered. I WILL take the road less travelled (I almost got stranded in the middle of New Mexico when a sudden rain storm turned the dirt road into a slick mud bath). And if there is a sign anywhere for SALT WATER TAFFY, I will stop.
I adore road trips and Road Trip Stories. Every story is a journey, and the enjoyment of the story comes from being taken along for the ride. In this case a literal ride. Every story has an inward journey and an outward journey. For me a good road trip story (aka quest) entails the protagonist encountering a series of unexpected characters and events that precipitate profound change in him or her. What I love is both the anticipation of the unexpected and the twists those unexpected encounters allow.
Even if your character isn’t travelling cross country, you can use the idea of a “road trip” in a microcosmic sense. Perhaps your character is turned away at a club, her friends go in without her, and she must find her way home. When her car breaks down, she decides to walk, cutting through an alley and ending up in one unexpected place after another. On this journey home, she meets archetypal characters who lead her astray, give her tasks to complete, and inevitably teach her something new.
Archetypes are NOT stereotypes. The “gatekeeper” could be the bouncer at the club, the “wise sage” could be a garbage man who gives her a lift, the “trickster” could be a skater girl, the “matriarch” could be the waitress at the donut shop. Archetypes tell us why characters behave the way they do, not who they are. (COMMON ARCHETYPES)
Road Trips in Literature and Film
I think of Homer’s Odyssey as the original “road trip.” Lord of the Rings is also a road trip. Some of my other favourite road trip stories (in no particular order) include:
Libba Bray’s Goine Bovine
John Green’s An Abundance of Katherine’s.
William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways
Kerouac’s On the Road
Thelma and Louise
Little Miss Sunshine
Oh Brother Where Art Thou?
What are some of yours?
ROAD TRIP CONTEST!
While on my road trip I decided to bring along four books to read featuring road trips (how meta of me, right?). So far I have decided on Station Eleven, Goodnight Sunshine, and Flaming Iguanas.
Help me decide on a fourth Road Trip book to bring along for the ride!
Mention it in the comments below (up to 3 suggestions). Any genre is welcome. I will choose the book I think complements the other three to create a diverse mix. (i.e. you might not want to pick The Road by Cormac McCarthy b/c I’m already reading one post-apocalyptic story). You may not pick one that someone else has already named.
The WINNER will receive a special souvenir from my Road Trip Book Tour along with a $10 Amazon gift card.
ENTRY DEADLINE: April 3
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YOUR WRITING WORKOUT
As with the example above, your character might not take a long distance journey, but you can still use the idea of a “road trip” to structure your tale. Give your character a goal (to get home, to buy groceries, to locate a lost dragon, to find the waterfall of longevity), trials and tribulations that stand in her way, characters that help or hinder, and redemption/change (i.e. the better self) through the experience.
TIMED WRITING GUIDELINES
Set your timer for 5 -10 minutes per startline
(I increase the time with each startline: 5 min, 7 min, 10 min …)
When timer starts: write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.
My character’s “road trip” begins when . . .
On this journey my character is delayed by . . .
Help appears in the form of . . .
By the time my character reaches her destination she has learned . . .
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*ROAD TRIP BOOK TOUR: the series
This series will feature posts on what it takes to create a book tour as an author with an independent press (aka an “authorpreneurial” book tour). I will share my process and strategies and then take you on tour with me.
I have no idea what will happen . . .
Mark Cameron says
Happy trails! And thanks for including me in your road trip reading list! I look forward to comparing travel notes when you return. I’m planning a BC Book Tour — with my whole family, in a camper van — in June.
You’re welcome! I’m looking forward to reading your book. I really enjoyed your reading/talk the other day. 🙂
And — what Road Trip book would YOU recommend as my 4th book to take along?
Oh, and yay camper van book tour!
Erin Hazlehurst says
Oh I was going to suggest Flaming Iguanas! (I really was)
So, in light of you beating me to the punch, how about:
Electric kool Aid Acid Test
Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance
Travels with Charley
I hadn’t even heard of Flaming Iguanas until I did a search for Road Trip literature. As soon as I read the description I was all, Yeah, that’s coming with me!
What’s even funnier is that your list could be alternatively titled “Books Danika Started But Never Finished.” Seriously, all three of them.
Oh, and I think you should do this writing exercise for your psycho thriller story.
Ooh! I’ve got for you. How about Octavia Butler’s “Kindred”? It’s a different kind of travel — time travel! I haven’t actually read it yet, but many people consider it one of the most influential SFF books of the past few decades. (Time travel! That’s still traveling!!)
My other recommendation is “All the Birds in the Sky” by Charlie Jane Anders. I don’t think it’s a travel story (haven’t read that one, either) but it comes highly recommended.
Ha! I’ve actually read “Kindred” so there.
I have not read “All the Birds in the Sky” though, so I added it to my GoodReads list, but I’m sticking with road trip books for this round.
Thelma and Louise and any one of the Chevy Chase Vacation movies
Also loved Sideways
Yes! Sidways should have been on my list! Great film.
Books hmmmm how about how about Angels and Demons light reading, exciting journey most by car and clues leading to the treasure of the Masons,
I’ve actually read Angels and Demons. I liked it much more than I thought I would. Good summer read.
I think one could definitely apply a Road Trip structure to it, even though it’s not exactly that genre.
Debby Dodds says
Carsick by John Waters is a hoot! https://www.amazon.com/Carsick-Waters-Hitchhikes-Across-America/dp/0374535450
The description had me at “John Waters hitchhikes across America…” Why have I not heard of this before!
Anne D'Angelo says
How about Wild by Cheryl Strayed? Or Into the Wild by John Krakouer (although maybe you want something funnier/more upbeat)
Hi Anne! You know, those have both been on my list to read. I think I’ve been avoiding Into the Wild because, well, I know how it ends. I didn’t see the movie either.