Authors are influenced by where they grow up and the places they live throughout their lives. What would some of Mark Twain’s books be like if he had not known the Mississippi River? His pen name wouldn’t have even been Mark Twain.
I grew up in Michigan. Central Michigan to be precise because the many subregions of our peninsula matter, at least to us.
I now live in Battle Creek, which can be classified as Western Michigan, Southern Michigan, or South Central Michigan.
Now you know how easy it is for me to create fantasy worlds divided by warring tribes and haunted wilds.
Speaking of haunted wilds, I consider Michigan to be inherently spooky. The environmental devastation wrought in the 19th century lingers like a crime within the second growth forests. This is one reason why the Lord of the Rings resonated with me so much as a young reader. I think our history of deforestation prepared me to understand the malice of Fanghorn Forest and Mirkwood. From a very young age, I always sensed the hidden life within the trees, and some of them resented people. I immediately found the theme of sentient trees in Tolkein’s masterpiece appealing and relatable.
Although my fantasy writing does not focus on trees, our oxygen-producing neighbors always inspire me. Nature and landscapes play an important role in my fiction, and I sprinkle references to trees throughout the prose.
In my first published novel, Union of Renegades, I wanted to summon my feelings born of Michigan’s forests. The novel opens with two people entering a haunted Wilderness from which no one has ever returned.
From Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I
As soon as she was alone on the road, she turned off and headed into the fields. In the distance the fields dwindled into pastures, and then the forest began. Approaching the very edge of the Wilderness, Miranda became afraid, feeling the dangerous potential within.
A giant oak stood out before the rest of the trees like a sentinel. The limbs of the oak curved and curled gracefully. A sudden gust of wind rattled the many branches of the watchful tree as she passed beneath.
Growing up in the Great Lakes region also gave me the ability to write about bad weather. My novels have featured punishing thunderstorms, armies brought to a standstill by freezing rain, and the quiet of a forest where snow falls gently. Even so, I hesitate to call our weather “inspiring.”
Every state is home to many talented people. Thankfully, with the rise of the internet, authors can now reach readers directly. I’ve been producing my novels since 2006, and they are available worldwide.
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