Eric Jerome Dickey recently took a respite from writing his next big novel adventure while in Barbados to chat with rolling out about his latest release, A Wanted Woman, a steamy thriller set on the luxurious Caribbean island. Reaper, aka agent MX-401, can’t enjoy the tranquil waves crashing along the sun-filled beaches as she indulges in a cocktail, because she’s sequestered. She’s hiding out from political warlords, the Laventille Killers, who’ve followed her from Trinidad. Metaphorically, paradise is prison.
Dickey, who’s written 21 novels to date, is no stranger to traveling. As a matter of fact, most of his novels are set in a city where he’s invested quality time and immersed himself in the culture.
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How do you spend your time when you travel to a city or country that you plan to write about in your books?
I try to get away from the touristy stuff and try to get into the culture and way of life.
Why do you travel to different cities and countries to write?
For example, I use Barbados as a character so I can write about experiences with authenticity and correctly. The people from Barbados actually read my novels. In an episode of “Friends,” the cast visited Barbados, but the residents were asking, ‘What part of Barbados are they in?’ It wasn’t Barbados and I don’t want to have them ask that question of my writing.
In 1999, I wrote Milk in My Coffee and some scenes were set in New York. I found the apartment that Solomon lived in. The taxi ride that Jordan was in was me taking notes as we traveled across the bridge. I went to Queens and found Kimberly’s home.
I am always looking for details to add. I want to see the type of people and experience the five senses of a location. I will spend the bulk of a day just trying to develop a couple of sentences, because those two will bring a scene to life.
Reaper flees Trinidad for Barbados. Describe the Trinidadian culture.
It is a very interesting place, very beautiful and at the same time very dangerous. A lot of the stuff that I included in the novel was based on the news. The behavior of the Laventille Killers isn’t far removed reality there. An article in the local newspaper reported that assassins were coming over from South America and doing their hits in Trinidad. Every location in the book that I mention in the book that Reaper visits is real. The whole journey is real. There’s a line in the book where I talk about her standing on a hill looking out at the sea. I have been there. I keep a lot of notes when I travel and never throw anything away.
Where have you traveled to include that city or country as a character in your book?
Atlanta, Amsterdam, Antigua, Argentina, Barbados, Belgium, Buenos Aires, Grenada, Hawaii, Jamaica, London, Montserrat, New York, Paris, Trinidad, Uruguay and many other parts of the United States on my book tour. Many times when I am in the car, I take notes. Even when exhausted, what you grasp in 10 to 15 minutes can be fantastic. I was in Pittsburgh and had a nice, chatty driver who I learned so much from. By the time we reached the hotel room, I asked her to repeat her spiel about the area and history. I created a character named Hawk.
What do you pack when you travel?
I try to pack as little as possible so I buy in-season clothes at the destination and donate them when I leave. I am always taking pictures with iPhone and Samsung and create a digital journey and create the scenes. I use the photos for accuracy when describing locales.
Where do you call home?
I have a mortgage in California.