Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A WORLD WITHOUT YOU Book Tour, Day 4: Boston, MA

Welcome to Day Four of my book/research tour! 

Boston was actually not in my original manuscript--or my original plan. It wasn't until much later in the writing process, when Phoebe became a narrating character and I realized I needed a moment with her outside her home that I thought to have her go with her mother into Boston. 

And since I dragged my own mother with me on this trip, I was really glad that I got to share Boston with her. We took the ferry from Salem (to avoid parking in the city), and that was an excellent choice.

In A World Without You, Phoebe's mom takes her out for an adventure day, driving down to Faneuil Hall for some shopping. It's not that huge of a scene, but it honestly took me days to research--I was fascinated by the idea of Faneuil Hall, but needed to get the feel right, you know? 

And while I knew that Faneuil (and the nearby markets) were now basically shopping centers, I didn't realize that the top portion of Faneuil was and sometimes still is used for politics. Frederick Douglass and Lucy Stone both spoke up for more freedoms here.

But basically, Faneuil is now a part of a couple of market buildings full of shops and delicious food. 

And I was especially happy to be able to explore it with my mother.

Although short, the scene in A World Without You is important because it shows Phoebe and her mother in a rare moment alone together. It was my way of showing their love, and so it was even more special that I got to share it with my own mother.

Also, I sort of loved how--much like on Plum Island--my research seemed eerily to come to life around me. Like I said before, the scene with Phoebe and her mother in Faneuil Hall is really short, but in it, Phoebe casually checks out a sundress and considers buying it. And as my mother and I were walking between the market buildings, a saleslady tried to get us to buy some sundresses!

Another thing Phoebe and her mom do is cruise through the Quincy Market and try to out do each other in tasty foods. You guys. You guys. There's basically an entire building that's one big food court and it's full of things that involve melted cheese and gelato and chocolate and ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Also? Totally without prompting, my mom picked a mac and cheese stall for lunch proving (a) that we're totally related, and (b) another eerie connection with A World Without You as that's what Phoebe and her mom end up getting too. (Or maybe not eerie, because why would anyone pick anything else when mac and cheese is on the menu?)

After checking out Faneuil and the other marketplaces, Mom and I started on the Freedom Trail. This brick line meanders around the city, pausing at places where important things in the American Revolution happened. 

Of course, the first thing I gravitated to was the cemeteries. 

The above gravestone was noted for being so ornate; do you recognize all the tombstone symbols carved into it? 

I don't care what happens to my body, but I want a cool gravestone, y'all. 

Here's one we couldn't figure out, even when we asked park rangers about it. Some of the graves of revolutionaries were covered in coins. Why? No idea. Just...coins. Coins all over.  

Apparently, this gravestone helped inspire Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Scarlet Letter. The crest on the side may have inspired the large red "A" Hester had to wear. 

Sam Adams grave was located just in front of...

...the graves of the victims of the Boston Massacre. Which happened just a few blocks away, marked by this circle embedded in the ground in front of the Old State Building.

I remember very vividly how in my old text book, there were political cartoons and illustrations of the Boston Massacre--and they were brutally graphic. And yet, being in this spot and seeing the graves--and hearing more of what really happened, outside of propoganda--was hugely powerful. 

Fun note! On the balcony in the Old State Building above, they read the Declaration of Independence to the people gathered below. 

But back to the graves! Aren't they beautiful?

I particularly liked the skull design of this one...probably the most vividly realistic of the lot. 

John Hancock had a large monument in the cemetery to match his large signature on the Declaration of Independence...

And I loved the symbolic winged time that decorated the wall outside the cemetary, too. 

Another fun fact! The graves were originally kept by a groundskeeper who also kept his cows in the walled cemetery, at least until people started complaining about all the cow poo filling the area up.

So after a long day of walking the trail, dragging my mom through graveyards, and nerding out over history, we decided to hop onto a whale watching boat! 

I know what you're thinking: whale watching in Boston? I thought I'd never see whales outside of Canada and Alaska, but honestly, it was such a great experience here! The boat tour was about three hours long (I know), and it was potentially my favorite thing. 

Apparently, there's a well-known feeding ground for humpback whales off the coast, and the tour--run by the aquarium--took us straight there. It wasn't long before we started seeing puffs of white water on the surface...

And then we saw three humpback whales--and they seemed intent on saying hi! 

When I tell you these whales got close, I'm vastly underselling you the experience. They were so close that they moved our boat. They were so close that I could look them in the eye. They were so close that, had I been on the lower deck, I would have felt the mist from their blowing.

This whale became my very best friend. We're going on vacation together later.

I kept trying and trying to get one of those classic pictures of the tail splashing back into the sea, and I kept being a second off...

But I did get a great shot of a whale shooting straight up from the water to try to scare off the birds that were circling it (and stealing its lunch).

That is a mother flipping whale telling off a bunch of mother flipping birds and its face is right there.

In the end, I did get my tail picture ;) And on the boat ride back to shore, the scientists on board showed us what baleen looks and feels like. 

Once we got back, we hung out at the market for a little while longer, then snagged a duck tour of the harbor--everyone's top recommendation. 

After a long day of sightseeing and whale watching, it was sort of a relief to take the ferry back to our car and call it a night. As we left, I turned around and snapped this picture of Boston at sunset...a fitting end to a day full of history, family, and whale bffs.

Stick around all this week for more updates and travelogue of my recent tour--including a literal whale, a makeover, and a naked cowboy! 

And don't forget to enter my on-going giveaway--100 people who take a photograph of A World Without You and post it online will get a free surprise gift in the mail! 

More details and entry form are located here.

And hey! Why not get yourself a fancy signed copy of the book? 

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