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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, April 06, 2009

Taking inspiration from nature

This time of year, I love to take a notebook out to a local park or to an overlook by the lake near my house. It's warm, the sunshine makes me happy, and I get a great wave of writing inspiration from being outdoors after a long, cold winter.

But surrounding myself with Mother Nature isn't just for putting myself in a good frame of mind to write. It's also good for inspiring story aspects. I've probably incorporated the outdoors and nature into every book I've ever written. After visiting particularly beautiful places, I come away with ideas for stories -- whether it's set in the mountains of Tennessee, as is my May release, Her Very Own Family, or the lovely beaches of Florida's Gulf Coast, like my first book, last September's A Firefighter in the Family. Nature can be a character in and of itself, a living, breathing entity. This is something the editor for my young adult books looks for in my YA books. In fact, it was something I had to incorporate even more than normal while revising this month's release, Heartbreak River (written as Tricia Mills), set in the mountains of Colorado. My editor pointed out places to really bring the setting to life, such as giving the river its own personality and having that personality change as my main character's journey progresses.

With the wonders of online research and television documentaries, nature can even inspire stories set in locales I've never visited in person. This was true for my second YA novel, 2010's Ice and Desire. It is set in Alaska, and I had a wonderful time researching all the nuances of Alaska's climate, flora, fauna, and landscape. Through my writing, I hope not only to provide an enjoyable story, but also inspire others to get out and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, to really stop and smell the roses (or pines or sea breeze or whatever wonderful scents are riding on the air).


At 8:57 AM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

I have to agree that nature offers a chance to create an entire backdrop to your story that can often serve as narrator, sidekick and friend. I loved A Firefighter in the Family and I know I'll love your YAs with great scenery like you described.

I really enjoyed researching the flora and fauna of the Yorkshire moors for my first book - Lost in Love. The diversity present there and the beauty are just amazing.

My second book starts on the cliffs of Dunwich in Suffolk and it was also a fascinating study. The once prosperous sea town gradually dropped off into the sea and the photographs I found are just so haunting.

And of course my own five acres is a constant source of inspiration.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Sounds like you've got some gorgeous natural scenery in your books, Louisa. Wow on the town that dropped into the sea!

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, to really stop and smell the roses (or pines or sea breeze or whatever wonderful scents are riding on the air).

Or the over-the-top pollen count!

But yes, setting as character is an excellent way to add depth to the book. I can't tell you how much I enjoy following Harry Bosch and Elvis Cole around Los Angeles.

And anyone who doesn't address the climate in a book set in Florida will lose points with me. Dealing with heat and humidity (or, as in one of PJ Parrish's novels, the unexpected freeze for which no one is every prepared) is a must if I'm going to believe the book.

At 1:08 PM, Blogger Kate Diamond said...

I'm actually inspired by my very own back yard. Now that it's (finally) sunny in the Pacific Northwest, I can go outside and do a little weeding whenever I'm feeling blocked!

At 5:05 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Trish, great blog. I think setting is very important. I can't wait to read Heartbreak River. Sounds Fab!

Researching the Yorkshire moors sounds like fun, Louisa!

It's easy to get lost in the research when you enjoy reading about all of these wonderful places.

I'm with you, Kate. A little walk around outside always helps to get the writing juices flowing.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Terry, yes, the pollen can get bad this time of year. Thank goodness for prescription allergy meds.

Kate, especially after a winter cooped up inside, I find getting outside helps me think better too.


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