Jun 22, 2011

Heading Out On The Highway

by Zana Bell

Get your motor running
Head out on highway,
Looking for adventure,
Or whatever comes our way.

But in what car? What does your car say about you?

However much we might deny it, our choice of vehicle speaks volumes about our character. My car is a Subaru station wagon. I got it because I wanted something big and safe for my son to learn to drive in. It still bears the scars of his first six months but I look on these as well-earned war wounds. It’s Japanese because I want a car that starts every day, first go. I love my work horse, my trusty steed. No skittish filly for me.

My husband now, he’s different. He has an ongoing love affair with sports cars. In theory, I like convertibles, too. They are sexy, racy, fun. Think Monti Carlo and the French Riviera. Think Route 66.

Then think of NZ in rain. Our first convertible was a 1963 MG midget and many was the time we’d have to suddenly pull over, leap out and begin pulling the soft top up by hand. The clips were old and rusty and those truculent little demons used to resist all my efforts while the rain strummed down.

The next car, an MG TC replica was beautiful. Classic. And a nightmare. It was so noisy, it was impossible to talk. We’d go on drives and just nod at each other like this was the most fun in the world. The soft top leaked only on the passenger side. Those were the good days when it went. Most of the time it was content to sit in the garden, deigning to be taken on the road at all.

Since then, numerous sports cars have joined and left our family. Currently we have a Porsche boxter. Finally, a convertible I love. First of all, it goes. The soft-top goes on and off automatically. It’s a beautiful jade colour. Women look at it and say, “How pretty.” Men fold their arms and say, “Well, you can always paint it, mate.” I suspect its days with us are numbered.

However much I sigh about cars in real life, I love choosing them for characters. In A Risk Worth Taking, both characters are bikers.  Right from the start, even before I had much idea of character or plot, I knew they’d both be motorcycle enthusiasts. Wonderful Anita Joy, herself a bikie, was a huge help in choosing appropriate models for them.

Why bikers? Because motorbikes are the most fun I’ve ever had on a road. First of all, they spell freedom. As Steppenwolf put it in Born to Be Wild

Fire all your guns at once and
Explode into space. 

 They are also sexy.

Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims
And strap your arms round my engine
I want to know if love I wild girl, I want to know if love I real

(Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run)

I wrote my book with those two songs running constantly through my head.

Tell me about your favourite mode of transport or travelling song and be in to win a copy of A Risk Worth Taking.


  1. I've ridden pillion on a couple of different bikes (sporty ones) but the one I enjoyed most was a friend's Harley.

    He took me up into the Pennsylvanian mountains and it was so cold and so terrifyingly fast and so wind-ey (as distinct from windy which it also was)...

    And the whole time he kept tapping his breaks so that I would lurch my front against his back. Took me FOREVER to catch on and slap the back of his helmet. Am guessing that's an old bikers gag...

    That was memorable...and the horse-riding I spoke of a few weeks ago... but favourite transport? Hmmm...

    I'm going to have to say my other half's old landcruiser...all loaded up with luggage and dogs and heading somehwere fabulous. I usually read until we get somewhere picturesque, he drives, the dogs sleep (and trumpet), and we play old doof-doof music all the way.

  2. Hey Zana, it was fun to help.

    I miss being on a bike - becoming a Mum ground the brakes on that mode of transport for me very quickly! Instead I pillion with hubby (very rarely - again the kids), but mostly have to settle for watching the bike racing on the box.

    The most beautiful mode of transport (although not very practical) was hot air ballooning. Once in the air just drifting... peaceful, calm and relaxing. Loved it.

  3. See now, I'm a squib. I get the freedom thing, but I'm scared of motorbikes. I told my dh when he asked me to marry him, Yes, but you have to promise not to ride a bike (coz I knew he loved them). Sounds cruel, controlling...however, about five years ago I relented. What right did I have to put that constraint on the man I loved? So he jumped on a friend's red demon, slid out and came off at a roundabout and could hardly walk for a month.

    But I would LOVE a sports car. I look at them on CARSALES all the time. A nice Alpha Spyder, me thinks. Or one of those sleek BMW jobbies. One day, when we need two seats rather than four or five. =)

  4. I love motorbikes! I so SO want one. Although first I need to get my licence... When it comes to cars, I have to confess that I like utes. Something you can pile high with dogs and stuff, like Nikki says, and head off to exciting backcountry places.

  5. Hi everyone, poor Zana's having a CYBER-GREMLIN so she can't get on to the blog to answer you right now - but she will try again but it might be much much later later!

    Earlier, she sent me a reply to Nikki which I've only just found...

    "Hey Nikki, lol with the brakes gag! I confess, if I were going to choose the car of my dreams, it would be an old jeep, preferrably soft-top. They spell adventure. I love the idea of you all heading off into the distance, doof-doofing all the way."

  6. And, Zana, you must know what I'm going to say - I LOVE motorbike travelling! We did The Big Trip a couple of years ago and it was awesome!

    Though I do confess that *camping* while travelling on the motorbike is an exercise in minimalism! In fact, we have "travel Mk2" in the planning stages right now and might be more like Nikki - an old 4WD packed to the rafters with home comforts!

  7. Replies from CYBER-ZANA, who sadly still has gremlins!

    ANITA, ballooning is one of my dreams. On my bucket list is ballooning over the game reserves in Africa at dawn.

    Funnily enough, ROBYN, my other half was lusting after an Alpha spyder just a few days ago. "Argh," I cried. "European and old!" My experiences with old European makes have scarred me for life. Your poor husband. Which hurt more, his injuries or proving you right?"

    Your last trip had me green with envy, SHARON. I'll look forward to accounts of the next one - the de luxe version.

  8. Hi Zana and the Love Cats,
    I've thought all day about this question because for me transportation is from A to B - no love involved! LOL. I'm a ute girl myself - practical! But if I think about Anita's hot air balloon... then best mode of transport for me is underwater swimming. I'd love to be a fish. It's such a cruisey way to get around!

  9. Oh, Zana, until 4 years ago as far as I was concerned a car was a car. But then I sat in a 10 year old Mercedes... and fell in love (we'd gone to buy a brand new Toyota Yaris but the sales people were busy and didn't come to talk to us, so we wandered next door to the Mercedes dealership just for a laugh). We bought the Merc. And I still love it.

    Dream car, though, would be a Porsche 911 (the most beautiful car in the world!), but I would settle for a Mercedes SLK -- 2 door convertible -- sleek, sophisticated and FUN!

    P.S. Really love your Boxter

  10. Zana

    I so love that sports car we have a white lancer and it gets us from A to B safely and without hassle LOL probably one of the best cars we have ever had.
    I have never been on a motorbike they kinda scare me a bit but I love watching them drive past me on the roads they look really cool.
    And I so love Steppenwolfs Born to be Wild I used to ice skate to that many many years ago it really put the speed on LOL

    Have Fun

  11. Hey Em, I can just see you in a ute!

    Catherine, I'm with you. Though I've only done a bit of scuba diving, I loved it. If one could do it without the clumsy apparatus - heaven.

  12. What sort of mercedes, Michelle? I confess to a fondness for German cars because the only other reliable convertible we've owned apart from the boxter was a VW. Loved that little bug. My dh is completely with you re porsche 911. He has been threatening to buy one for his 50th since his mid twenties. In those days it seemed safely far away but the time is now approaching......

  13. Helen, glad to hear there are other reliable sports cars out there. Until the boxter, I thought capricious engines were part of the job description of these cars.

    Ice-skating to Steppenwolf, now that's seriously cool. We only ever had flimsy roller-skates on small concrete pads when I was a kid but we read ice-skating comics avidly.

  14. I've never been keen on motorbikes, a feeling I inherited from my father since his father (my grandfather) was killed on a motorbike. And, to be honest, I've never been particularly interested in cars - they're a bit like the gadgets in Sharon's post to me: I like the things they can do for me, like the special features. :)

  15. Zana, I have a C180. Not flash. But it is a beautiful deep green on the outside and a heavenly cream on the inside (I based the colour scheme of my website on it). The first time I sat in it I wanted to purr.

    Love, love, love German engineering. If your dh does get a Porsche 911, can I come and visit? :-)

  16. Zana,

    I love motorbike riding, but because I haven't ridden in so many years (yes, kids again!) I think I'd be a little nervous in traffic.

    Favourite mode of transport. I've always wanted a dual cab 4WD - something with room for dogs and saddles and passengers, plus the power to pull a float =)

  17. Rach, how awful for your father to have his father die on a motorbike. I have to admit, my enthusiasm for motorbikes did weaken considerably after having kids so I know how you feel, Mel.

    There seems to be a strong link with adventure on this blog with motorbikes, 4 wheel-drives and the odd adrenalin sport thrown in for good measure. Does this confound some dearly held stereotypes of what romance readers/writers are like?

  18. Michelle, your car sounds gorgeous and it will change how I look at your website forever now. I think I'm going to have to go jade to match our car!

    Would love a visit anytime, 911 or not :)