Sunday, September 13, 2015

The great outdoors

This morning, my husband and I took to the woods.

It was a perfect hiking day: cool, dry, with a hint of breeze. The leaves are just starting to turn, a few bright accents of scarlet and yellow among the greenery. It refreshed me, the way it always does.

I've noticed that my fictional characters often run to nature when they need to regroup: Colt in The Secret Year heads for the river; Ryan in Try Not to Breathe explores the woods and the waterfall around his home; Maggie in Until It Hurts to Stop climbs mountains. This echoes my own fondness for the natural world, and my regular forays into it. My characters' experiences reflect my own childhood seeking out any scrap of woods, any "unimproved" lot I could find. Those lots have become fewer and fewer, and I worry about children who don't have some tree or rock to climb, some bed of moss or sand to rest on, some trickle of water to explore. It doesn't have to be deep wilderness--mine certainly wasn't, and a child's imagination can turn a quarter-acre lot into a vast tract of frontier land. I have found pockets of nature even in the most urban neighborhoods I've lived in, in places as built up as Atlanta and Philadelphia.

I do realize that not everyone finds, or needs to find, solace in the outdoors. But I only understand that in theory. In practice, it seems, all my characters seek out that very solace. I only vary the ecological niche, the environment in which they seek it out.

Some parts of ourselves make it into our characters whether we consciously plan it or not.


  1. Replies
    1. Your books do have a strong sense of place--so does your blog, for that matter.