My Road-Tripping Childhood by Elia Winters


[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to welcome author Elia Winters to the site today. She’s talking all things road trips. Take it away, Elia!]

The decision to write a road-trip romance was easy. Road trips were a formative part of my childhood and still hold a special magic to me as an adult. I know firsthand the way the car operates outside of the bounds of space and time on a long journey, giving room for anything to happen. In Hairpin Curves, Megan and Scarlett confront the secrets, lies and hidden feelings that have simmered between them during their estrangement, because road trips have a tendency to open up feelings that are otherwise hidden away. And hopefully, the highway also gives space for adventure and the beauty of the unexpected. 

My best childhood memories involve our family road trips. My family moved to Florida when I was three, moving us across the country so we could help take care of one set of grandparents in their retirement. We left behind an entire extended family in Massachusetts. My parents didn’t fly, so the best option to see family back home was to drive. We made the trip a few times when I was very young, but after my much-older siblings grew up and moved out, we started to make the drive more often: each summer, and sometimes, in the winter as well. 

My parents were expert road-trippers. Before any trip, we would make a special visit to a toy store, where I would pick out a few cheap toys, and my parents would buy some more as a surprise. They were all giftwrapped and lined up on the back window of the car. Each time we crossed the line into a new state, I was allowed to open a new toy, which would keep me steadily occupied for the next few hours. These were the days before the GPS, before cell phones, before portable DVD players or televisions built into the seats of family cars, and I had to entertain myself by reading books in between bouts of carsickness. I devoured the Invisible Ink puzzle books sold at rest areas. I stared out the window and listen to the same tape endlessly on my Walkman — when I was finally old enough for a Walkman. I wrote stories about the other people stuck alongside us in the traffic jams.  

I also got to know my parents as people — there on the open road where there was nothing to do but talk. They told stories about their childhoods and their favorite memories. We listened to John Denver and the Muppets Rocky Mountain Holiday cassette and tried endlessly to sing the three different parts in “Going Camping,” somehow all ending up singing the same lines and howling with laughter. We played the alphabet games with license plates and road signs. My dad taught me to yo-yo, and we would practice yo-yo tricks at rest areas. Like Megan in Hairpin Curves, I saw snow for the first time on a road trip — we’d pulled off at a rest area standing in wonder beneath a slate gray sky. 

My parents had a worn road atlas shoved beneath the passenger seats, the route highlighted in faded yellow, but in my memory, they rarely needed it. Years of familiarity had marked the route and alternate routes in their minds so deeply that they could effortlessly navigate the eastern seaboard. To me, it always seemed like they drove by the stars, heading out into the night with no hesitation and a calm certainty about the path ahead. Curled in the backseat with a stack of books, music and notepads, I never doubted that no matter what lay ahead of us, we would find our way through. The open road was a place of magic and possibility where we could talk and sing and tell stories. It remains the setting of my greatest memories.  

About the Author:

RITA™ Award-winning author Elia Winters is a fat, tattooed, polyamorous bisexual who loves petting cats and fighting the patriarchy. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and teaches at a small rural high school, where she also runs the drama club. In her spare time, she is equally likely to be found playing tabletop games, kneading bread, cross-stitching or binge-watching Marie Kondo. A sex educator and kink-positive feminist, Elia reviews sex toys, speaks at kink conventions, and writes geeky, kinky, cozy erotic romance. She currently lives in western Massachusetts with her loving husband and their weird pets.

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Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters, out July 28!

Megan Harris had hopes of seeing the world, but at twenty-five, she’s never even left Florida. Now a wedding invitation lures her to Quebec…in February. When her ex-friend Scarlett offers to be her plus-one and suggests they turn the journey into an epic road trip, Megan reluctantly agrees to the biggest adventure of her life.

A week together in a car is a surefire way to kill a crush, and Scarlett Andrews has had a big one on Megan for years. The important thing is fixing their friendship.

As the miles roll away, what start out as harmless road-trip games and rest-stop dares escalate into something like intimacy. And when a surprise snowstorm forces Megan and Scarlett to hunker down without the open road as distraction, they’ve got a bigger challenge than making it to the church on time: facing the true nature of their feelings for each other.

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