Mystery and Wilderness in Fiction

By Karen Wills

My husband and I made up a personal list of criteria for good fiction. One of our essentials is mystery. By that we don’t mean crime solving. We mean the lure of what hovers just beyond the obvious. It’s what makes us tell our book club or other friends to read it so we can talk about it.

In literature it’s sometimes found in complex characters or in nature. I used the wilderness as setting that is almost a character in my historical novel, River with No Bridge. For me, books set in the wilderness often have mystery. There’s richness to that.

In Eowyn Ivey’s historical novel, To the Bright Edge of the World, to the bright edgea husband is one of the first to head an expedition to explore Alaska Territory’s Wolverine River Valley while his pregnant wife waits at Fort Vancouver for his return. In a letter to her he muses, “I suppose the wilderness does have its draw. She always keeps a part of herself a mystery.” Later he says, “It is a grand, inscrutable wildness. Never are the people here allowed to forget that each of us is alive only by a small thread.”

For authors and artists conveying the wilderness while honoring its mystery is challenging. In her novel about the artist Emily Carr, the forrest loverthe late Susan Vreeland wrote, “She looked back at the forest—more dense and tangled and full of mystery than the forested part of Beacon Hill Park at home. How could she ever paint it? No art school taught how to paint such immense, paralyzing magnificence.”

And yet, some of us keep writing about, or painting, those precious wild places that still exist. How long wilderness has existed. We marvel at the geology of places like Glacier National Park and find an awed comfort in astronomy. Poet Robinson Jeffers wrote these lines,

The stars shine in the sky like the spray of a wave

Rushing to meet no shore, and the great music

Blares on forever…

Perhaps, the meaning of wilderness is that wild beauty creates its own mystery.

river with no bridge

 

Now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kindle

https://karenwills.com

Face Book: Karen Wills Author

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Mystery and Wilderness in Fiction

By Karen Wills

My husband and I made up a personal list of criteria for good fiction. One of our essentials is mystery. By that we don’t mean crime solving. We mean the lure of what hovers just beyond the obvious. It’s what makes us tell our book club or other friends to read it so we can talk about it.

In literature it’s sometimes found in complex characters or in nature. I used the wilderness as setting that is almost a character in my historical novel, River with No Bridge. For me, books set in the wilderness often have mystery. There’s richness to that.

In Eowyn Ivey’s historical novel, To the Bright Edge of the World, to the bright edgea husband is one of the first to head an expedition to explore Alaska Territory’s Wolverine River Valley while his pregnant wife waits at Fort Vancouver for his return. In a letter to her he muses, “I suppose the wilderness does have its draw. She always keeps a part of herself a mystery.” Later he says, “It is a grand, inscrutable wildness. Never are the people here allowed to forget that each of us is alive only by a small thread.”

For authors and artists conveying the wilderness while honoring its mystery is challenging. In her novel about the artist Emily Carr, the forrest loverthe late Susan Vreeland wrote, “She looked back at the forest—more dense and tangled and full of mystery than the forested part of Beacon Hill Park at home. How could she ever paint it? No art school taught how to paint such immense, paralyzing magnificence.”

And yet, some of us keep writing about, or painting, those precious wild places that still exist. How long wilderness has existed. We marvel at the geology of places like Glacier National Park and find an awed comfort in astronomy. Poet Robinson Jeffers wrote these lines,

The stars shine in the sky like the spray of a wave

Rushing to meet no shore, and the great music

Blares on forever…

Perhaps, the meaning of wilderness is that wild beauty creates its own mystery.

river with no bridge

 

Now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kindle

https://karenwills.com

Face Book: Karen Wills Author

Who Was She?

By Ann Minnett

A black hole blocks me from the real story of my paternal third great grandmother (ggggrandma). Every other line in my family tree can be traced further back, mostly thanks to fastidious recordkeeping by Quaker ancestors.

But not ggggrandma Merritt or Merrett or Merett or Marat as it was sometimes spelled. I am obsessed with what little we know about her and who my ggggrandfather might have been. If you have plotted your own family tree, you know how difficult it can be to locate and follow the women who came before.

Here’s what we know about her:

·       Born in SC in 1810

·       Two sons born in north GA, 1832 & 1835

·       Listed as head of household 1840 – north GA 

·       Married a Mr. Lankton in 1844 – north GA

·       Widowed in 1868 and moved to Missouri to live with her son

Possible scenarios:

·       She was a Merritt and had two boys out of wedlock

·       She had two illegitimate sons by a man named Merritt but they never married

·       She married a Merritt, had two sons, was soon widowed, and remarried 

I would like to settle on one of the above and just let ggggrandma be, but I also feel honor-bound to get her story right. So, guess who is not writing or marketing her novels? Who has conducted endless Google searches and purchased reference books on daily life and customs in Antebellum Georgia? Who has lost days reading about The Indian Wars between Georgia pioneer militias and tribes that resulted in forced westward migrations of native populations? 

I’ve learned a lot. Perhaps what’s keeping me from writing domestic suspense will lead to my first novel of historical fiction.

 

June Book News

june 2018

Cookie CrumblesLESLIE BUDEWITZ:
 Book launch! So exciting, I’m babbling. AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, my fifth Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, will launch June 8 in trade paperback, e-book, and audio! (Read an excerpt and find the order links on my website.) I’ll be celebrating in towns large and small — Seattle, Augusta, Billings, and Bozeman. (Details on my website, under News and Events.)

And I hope you’ll join me for cookies and more at the Christmas in June book launch party at the Bigfork Art and Cultural Center, from 4-6 on Saturday, June 9. I’ll talk about the book, how it came to be, and other mysteries (grin!), and sign books. The art center’s “Year of the Bird” exhibit will be on display, and all my books will be available. I hope to see you there — or somewhere else along the road!

Happy reading!

Time Travel

By Janice McCaffrey

I’ve been captivated with the idea of time travel as far back as I can remember. According to Wikipedia, stories of time travel date back as early as 3rd century Greece. In our day the idea was popularized by H. G. Wells’ novel Time Machine. Since then there have been many versions using a multitude of techniques to transport characters between places and times.

Following Wells’ lead Bill and Ted used a phone booth to travel through their                excellent adventure. Marty used a De Lorean sports car with its flux capacitor driven engine to get Back to the Future. The TV show Quantum Leap used a quantum accelerator that emitted blue lights and smoke. It shuffled a scientist to and from places and times where he could prevent incidents that would have catastrophic repercussions on the future.

Some authors use objects or talismans to transport their characters. Somewhere in Time tells the story of a young reporter who is to interview an eighty-plus year old actress in an historic hotel. While awaiting her arrival, he sees her photograph from sixty-years earlier and falls in love with her. He longs to go back in time. Then with an old coin in his hand and in the room she stayed in on her first visit, he falls asleep. When he wakes it’s the day, sixty-years earlier, the young actress arrived at the hotel. And the romance begins!

Other fictional characters have used portals found in a wardrobe, mirrors, bridges, water, walls, children’s bedroom closets, and video games. Think Chronicles of Narnia, Monsters, Inc., and The Matrix.

Vortices (plural for Vortex) are areas known to either draw energy out or pull energy into the earth. Sedona Arizona is famous for the strong vortices in the surrounding area. Resorts advertise the health benefits of the energy exchanges that take place there. And I’ll bet folks with strong imaginations attempt journeys to the past or future. I know I would.

How does one find a vortex? You could visit one of the many roadside Houses of Mystery. Or, websites explain that a person can use their inner-sensitivities to feel the energy pulsing through their bodies. However, there is scientific equipment that can help. It seems that a strong radio-active field is at the center of a vortex. The military has electromagnetic field meters to locate vortex energy. Then a Geiger counter’s response gives a weak or strong reading. So using an EMF with a Geiger counter a person can locate the precise center of a vortex; and just maybe a portal to another place and time.

Characters travel willingly or accidently finding themselves in an unfamiliar place and/or time. Depending on the plot, some characters could experience both. And that leads to the question of how to return a person or animal to their original location and date. Again it’s up to the writer; talismans, machines, portals, vortices, anything a person can think up.

Are there any rules for time travel? Can or should a traveler change events in the past to affect the future? Can a person travel at will or do they need an exact place or time to aim for? Can the passenger of a time machine control where and when they arrive at a destination – in either direction? Can a person land in parallel universes of the same time period? Can a time traveler choose to stay in the past or future or is their return mandatory? Can a person feel physical and/or emotional reactions as they pass through centuries? The protagonist in Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays (2015) has these decisions to consider.

Based on scientific facts and past experiments, traveling through time is not possible. But based on creative authors it can be done with or without rules and through whichever method they choose. The unknown adventure of time travel is a wonderful gift to writers. We can create situations, methods, choices, and consequences for our characters without parameters.

I still haven’t figured out how Marty got back to the future, but I am having a fun adventure creating time travel experiences for my characters.