ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Chris Goff's is the award-wining author of international thrillers and the Birdwatcher's Mystery series. Her debut thriller, DARK WATERS (Crooked Lane Books, Sept 2015) set in Israel amid the Israel-Palestine conflict, mirrors global headlines and will have readers frantically turning pages. As Christine Goff she has written five novels in the bestselling Birdwatcher's Mystery series, which was nominated for two WILLA Literary Awards, a Colorado Author's League Award, and published in the UK and Japan. Astor + Blue Editions reissued her backlist and the 6th book in the series, A PARLIAMENT OF OWLS, is scheduled for release in May 2016. Goff is currently hard at work on the second book in the international thriller series, RED SKY, set in Ukraine and due out in 2016.
One of the perks growing up an only child was traveling with my parents. While my friends who had brothers and sisters were made to stay home, I got to go. My parents loved to travel, and they saw no harm in pulling me out of school for weeks on end. Most years, we spent several weeks skiing in Aspen, sun tanning on Laguna Beach and sailing the coastal waters of Maine. At age five I traveled alone from Denver to Chicago to visit my grandmother. At thirteen, I was stuffed into the back seat of an Oldsmobile for a month long trip of the east.
I was in junior high when I took my first trip abroad. I lived for a month with a French family in Talence and drank wine on the Eiffel Tower. I also experienced my first "squat potty"—you know, the kind where you put your feet on the footprints and squat over a hole in the ground.
Is it any wonder that at age nineteen, I opted to defer a year of college for a backpacking trip around Europe? We weren't talking an "If It's Tuesday it Must be Belgium"-type adventure. No, armed with Eurail Passes, backpacks and a guide book, my best friend and I set out to conquer Europe.
Looking back on it, we're lucky we survived. Several adventures come to mind, including: four tries for the plane to lift off the runway in Reykjavik, Iceland due to ice buildup; a near head-on collision with a moose in a borrowed Volkswagen in Sweden; a midnight beach stroll in Torremolinos, Spain, when Franco's men had orders to shoot anyone on the beach after 10:00 p.m.; a casetas hopping adventure with two handsome foreigners at the Feria in Sevilla that ended with us walking alone in the wee hours of the morning through a spot the guide book touted as "extremely dangerous."
I later returned to college and got married, but my travelling adventures weren't over. Following the family tradition, I've pulled my kids out of school to visit locations in Jamaica, Mexico, Europe, Africa, Israel, Canada and the U.S. We've climbed waterfalls, rode camels, raced goats, birdwatched in the jungle, went dogsledding and flew in a four-seater plane into the Alaskan bush.
It was during a trip to Israel that I came up with the idea for my new thriller, Dark Waters. The family came for a week, then my daughter Danielle—who was eleven and there for medical treatments—and I stayed on for two-months. To amuse ourselves in our free time, we walked the streets of Tel Aviv or rented a car and drove around the country. We'd arrived in Israel at a time when suicide bombings were increasing and one day we stepped outside our apartment to find the bomb squad in full regalia. Curious, we joined other onlookers along a row of hastily-erected metal fencing and watched as police detonated a diaper bag abandoned in the street. In hindsight, we were all very fortunate the bag only contained diapers.
Another time, Danielle and I missed getting off at our bus stop and ended up south of Tel Aviv in a Hasidic suburb around suppertime. Disembarking, we couldn't find the bus stop for the northbound bus, and it soon became clear we were inappropriately dressed for the neighborhood. We were in shorts and t-shirts, while all the other women and girls wore long skirts, long-sleeved blouses, stockings and head coverings. When men wearing black pants, white shirts, and hats started yelling "Lech" and spitting toward us, I tried hailing a cab to no avail.
"What are they saying?" I asked Danielle, not expecting her to know.
"Go home," she answered. It turned out that's what our neighbor Moshe said to his dog, Hammoudi, when he wanted her to head back to the house.
Gladly, I thought, beginning to be frightened by the vehemence exhibited. Then, suddenly, we were met with an act of kindness. A young girl about Danielle's age sidled close and whispered, "Cross the street, go down a block and catch the 92 bus north."
When I tried to thank her, she ignored me.
Danielle and I followed her advice, and soon we were back in Tel Aviv. The lesson: never travel anywhere without at least a large shawl in your bag to cover yourself.
Israel was a place of clashing cultures, deep convictions, unending beauty and danger. In Tiberias, we passed the outdoor marketplace early one morning and spied a lone red Hyundai parked in the lot. We drove on through the Golan Heights, along the Lebanese border, and down the coast through Haifa. On the news that night, we learned that the red car had blown up in the marketplace less than half an hour after we'd passed.
Other than the Cyber Café, our favorite spot in Tel Aviv to hang out was the sea wall in front of the Dolphinarium discotheque. We used to sit there, listen to the music and watch the sun set on the sea. Several months after returning to the States, the discotheque was targeted by a suicide bomber. Twenty-four young people died.
I still love to travel, but I admit I've grown more cautious with time. My most recent trip was to Ukraine to research my second book in the thriller series, Red Sky. This time I took along my youngest daughter, a newly graduated eighth-grade social studies teacher. The first week we walked over forty miles (if my daughter's Fitbit is to be trusted) and learned a lot about the people of Kiev. We discovered how strong their ties are to Russia, even while fighting to maintain their autonomy. We experienced rolling blackouts and intense border scrutiny. We did, however, refrain from taking a tour to the front lines. Somehow an old Hummer, an old flak jacket, a helmet and a driver with a rifle just didn't seem like enough protection.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION? Tell us or leave a comment for Chris. on the blog below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win an advanced review e-book copy of RED LINE! (US entrants only, please.)
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