Every writer dreams about the research vacation. Ah yes, write a story set in Hawaii and write off the travel expenses as research. I wonder how often this actually happens. Teachers dream about being able to take vacations in the summer on teacher discounts too. (You can’t see me, but I’m rolling with laughter right now.)
I’m re-researching the details of Yumen Guan and the western frontier where part of my story is set and daydreaming about taking a research trip. I think there are even “Silk Road” packages that will take me from Xian out to Dunhuang. Hubby would throw a fit. I don’t think China is his choice for a dream vacation (weak stomach + meat and potatoes man — need I say more? ).
14 day Silk Road package. I’d be able to visit the ruins of the Jade Gate fortress and my beloved Gansu corridor. Until then, I’ll just stare at it from Google Maps and take lots of artistic license.
When I first read about Yumen Guan, I knew it was the perfect location for my story. The fortress ruins look so lonely rising out of the desert. Because it was built in the Han dynasty, by the Tang dynasty it would have been over 500 years old. I studied other military gates or “Guan” to figure out what the Jade Gate may have looked like in its heyday. The construction of a stone wall surrounding a towering wooden structure seems very common.
What’s in my head is something in between the barren rock and the fortress of its heyday. Oh, and another reason for my choice? Yumenguan or Yumen Guan is readable and pronounceable. Decisions, decisions. Back to revisions now.