Go Away With ... Sara Shepard
"Pretty Little Liars" author Sara Shepard says that she often incorporates her travels into her bestselling novels. (Austin Hodges / May 27, 2014)
Q. What are some of the places you've traveled to that have made it into your books?
A. My sister and I visited Iceland in 2001, and I incorporated it into "Pretty Little Liars." Aria lives there with her family while her father is on sabbatical. I figured Iceland was an unusual, quirky place that not too many readers knew much about, but it's also close enough to continental Europe for Aria to have done some traveling during her time there. The girls in "Pretty Little Liars" also visit Jamaica later on in the series. I've been there as well. And in the book, Aria and Noel go to Amsterdam, which I visited in college.
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. I've had a lot of memorable vacation experiences, but my favorite one lately was a surf trip to Barbados.
Q. To someone who was going there for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?
A. Definitely eat with the locals. Go to a fish fry in Oistins. It's laid-back, very inexpensive and delicious. Check out Bathsheba. The beaches are beautiful. And if you do like water activities, go for it! I've surfed all my life, but never really had great balance. I wasn't that great of a surfer when I went there, but by the end of the week I was paddling strong and catching some big waves. Plus, we met some great friends.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. This probably isn't that off the beaten path, but I lived in Tucson, Arizona, for a while and the southern part of town is really beautiful and kind of undeveloped. The area around the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has great walking trails and scenery, and the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa is mellow and has great guacamole and a sunset tequila toast.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. I think it was to Disney World, and who couldn't love Disney World? I remember that the must-see 3-D movie had Michael Jackson in it.
Q. What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?
A. When they say don't drink the water, don't drink it. I learned that the hard way.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. Pittsburgh, unfortunately, isn't near a beach, which was my favorite weekend getaway when I lived in New York, but I like Deep Creek, Maryland. It has year-round activities, renting a house on the water is affordable and it's only a two-hour drive.
Q. If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?
A. My family often travels to New York City during the holidays and that's always a good time. We also go to the Outer Banks in North Carolina and rent a big house on the water. It's much better than in the summer, when the beaches are overrun with tourists and all the restaurants are crowded. The water is usually freezing, but my sister and I often put on wetsuits and go in anyway.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. New York, Los Angeles, Reykjavik, New Orleans and Dublin.