So, since I last wrote, I have been deciding what book two will be about. After putting ‘How To Be A Good Wife’ to one side, I wondered whether I would find something new to write about. But it really wasn’t difficult. I knew I wanted to write about war photography, so I did a few library searches, got a few books out, and began trying to narrow down vague ideas into place and time and character.
A few weeks later, as I was working through the pile of books I had accumulated, my boyfriend called me. He had a few quiet weeks at work, and wondered if I wanted to go away somewhere. “You’ve been talking about going to Vietnam to research the war,” he said, “So let’s do it.”
And one week later, we were getting on a plane. I had frantically researched as much about the war as I could before the trip, and had planned our route accordingly. It kickstarted me into focussing on one conflict, and my head went into overdriving imagining what it would be like.
We started in Saigon, and after we became acclimatised to the heat, the traffic and the culture shock, I knew the trip was going to be one of our best ever. It was exactly what I needed: a break from my normal life which had started to feel a little too hum drum. Living in Australia has been an excitement from the get go, but after a while, even living abroad begins to feel a bit too normal. I wanted to be out of my comfort zone again, and Vietnam offered that in spades.
So we travelled to the Central Highlands where we took a private tour of the battlefields and met some Vietnamese people. From there, we took a hair-raising bus journey through spectacular mountain scenery to Danang. We spent the night in Hoi An, a beautiful ancient town which seemed like the original for every ‘Asian’ style area of Disneyland or the Trafford Centre. We spent three nights in Hue, exploring the Imperial Palace and the Perfume River, and then one night in Hanoi.
I wondered several times whether setting my book during the Vietnam War was a little too much of a challenge. Vietnam is so different to England or Australia: would I really be able to imagine what it was like to be live here, especially during war time? But I pushed those thoughts aside. I wanted a challenge, and there was so much about this place that drew me in. I am already thinking about returning…