Home Away

I look for locations for my stories on CyberRentals and HomeAway. I find the houses described on these websites far more interesting than anything that my imagination can supply.

For my latest novel, 
The Scent of Pine
, I needed a cabin in Maine, where my two main characters would have a torrid, three-day-long affair. I wanted it to be small, deep in the woods, preferably close to the lake. So I typed in: “Maine” “Acadia region” “Waterfront” “Sleeps two people.” The search returned several houses and I picked the perfect one. It was a tiny cabin—just one room. On a lake. Far away from everything. With no electricity or running water. No internet. No shower. No heat. I spent months reading the description of the house, staring at the photos provided by the owner, imagining my character occupying that space.

If I were to create a cabin from my imagination, I would’ve never thought of one without a shower or toilet. But this detail made the situation all the more intimate and romantic. My characters have to run out and plunge into the cold lake instead of banal showering. They warm themselves by the little woodstove. They cook their food at a campfire. The campfire inspires them to share stirring and bizarre stories from their past. The absence of phone connection allows them to feel free. The absence of internet makes them truly concentrate on each other. The strangeness and intimacy of the entire setting makes them fall in love.

I owe half of my plot to that house.

I think I’ll visit it one day.

The Visiting Scribes series was produced by the Jewish Book Council‘s blog, The Prosen People.

The Jewish world is full of debates. Get the latest in MyJewishLearning’s weekly blogs newsletter.

Discover More

Prayer as Spiritual Practice

Ask most people about their long-term goals for prayer and they often lack even the vocabulary to venture an answer.


Successor to the prophet Elijah, he healed the sick, raised the dead, and made iron float—but he was also a prophet who made serious mistakes.

How to Find the Right Synagogue for You

What you need to consider as you go "shul shopping."