P.A. De Voe in front of Musée national de Préhistoire, in Les Ezyies-de-Tayac, France
P.A. (Pam) De Voe is a cultural anthropologist, which accounts for her being an incorrigible magpie for collecting seemingly irrelevant information. Her first cozy mystery, A Tangled Yarn, was published in 2013. She’s written a series of short crime stories set in Ming Dynasty, China, which have been published in ezines and anthologies, and her historical adventure/mystery YA trilogy will be published this year. Learn more about Pam and her writing at her website.
Authors are often asked where their story ideas come from. In honesty, they come from everywhere. My debut cozy mystery, A Tangled Yarn, involved spinning and knitting, two of my hobbies. In 2014 I started writing a series of crime short stories about a magistrate who lived in China’s Ming Dynasty; in 2015 my YA adventure/mystery trilogy, set in 1380 China will come out. The Chinese historical themes come from my particular passion for Chinese history and culture. But ideas come from unexpected places, too, such as traveling experiences.
View of Vézère Valley from town of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac
Recently, my husband and I drove from Paris to Les Ezyies-de-Tayac in southern France’s beautiful Vézère Valley. The area is lined by soaring white cliffs.
We wanted to see the Paleolithic cave art, which has a staggering timeline: 30,000 - 12,000 years ago—a period of at least 18,000 years. Compare the longevity of these cultural traditions to the age of our country, or even the concept of democracy, which goes back to 507 BC Athens, Greece.
|St. Cirq cave site outside Les Eyzies-de-Tayac with historic troglodytic houses built into limestone cliffs|
What really captured me, however, was the stunning beauty of the art. I’d seen pictures, of course, but that was nothing compared to actually seeing a polychrome bison on the wall. The obvious sense of perspective was humbling. These prehistoric artists understood how to achieve the illusion of three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface (sorry, no pictures, we couldn’t take any in the caves) and how to carve realistic figures as three-dimensional sculptures or in base relief.
|Bison head, limestone in Musee d’Archeologie Nationale, St. Germain-en-Laye, just outside Paris|
I was intrigued by the art and the early modern humans who produced such art. Questions popped into my head: Who were these early people, really? How did they live? What did they believe? How did they pass on information? So many questions. I wrote down story ideas constantly.
Venus of Brassempouy (AKA Lady with the hood), mammoth ivory,25,000 years ago,
in Musee d’Archeologie Nationale, St Germain-en-Laye, just outside Paris
Did this mean I immediately started writing Paleolithic tales? No. I am committed to my writing schedule, which means historical Ming Dynasty and contemporary stories right now. However, I have my notes, and I very well may write short stories or a novel based on my trip to Les Eyzies-de-Tayac.
Ideas come from everywhere, including our travel experiences.
A Tangled Yarn
When Shannon McClain and the Purls of Hope visit the alpaca and llama farm of Luke and Selena Barlow, little do they know that the twisted path of the next few days will lead them from their peaceful small town of Apple Grove, Oregon, straight to the brink of disaster.