It was a bit of a lark to go to Turkey. The plane tickets were cheap. The country was surrounded by the turquoise blue of the Mediterranean Sea. The food was supposed to be better than Croatia’s. So, it was like going to Italy without going (again) to Italy.
As it got closer to the date of our departure, there was news everyday of bombs, refugees, and killings. Weeks before we were due to leave, I began to think we were making a mistake – heading to a foreign, faraway land where we didn’t know the language or the culture.
I can only think that this must have been what started my head whirling and whispering about the lure of the unknown. I’d been reading Treasure Island, too, so the idea of adventure was on my mind. Needling back there was how it is always boys and men who get flung out to these exotic lands and come back changed, grown, worldly.
That’s all I have to go on. I don’t know why the whole story popped into my head one night. But it did. A woman about to embark on an adventure, a man who had returned from the Great War. A waking dream in the middle of the night, I watched the whole thing before my eyes. The bar, the drinks, the jazz, the man, the two women, the poker game, the wild bet with two prosthetic legs on the green felt of the table.
Like an old Jimmy Stewart movie, the danger came from someone else’s hand. And rather than being hurled into the farthest reaches of the world, the threat was in a familiar, once safe place – home. Big and dangerous things can happen right where you live.
I wrote it all down – every day for months – even while in Turkey. I felt possessed by it. I did everything I could to not finish, even as I kept going.
At the very heart of it, The Night Is Filled with Wonder is an adventure novel. And like every adventure, the main character returns with a boon: knowledge. When faced with danger, something bigger and more unimaginable, she does this: she presses on. No matter what. She just keeps going.