Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Guest Post from Author Andrea Cremer
The Right Place and the Right Time
When I read The Eternal Ones I fell in love with the characters Kirsten created, but I was equally bewitched by the settings she created. I often talk about the wolf mythology of Nightshade deriving from my upbringing in Northern Wisconsin and a follow-up question I’ve encountered is: So why isn’t your book set in the woods of Wisconsin and Minnesota?
I believe place is as vital to a book’s life as much as any of its characters. I love my home territory, but it wouldn’t have worked for the world I built in Nightshade. First, I needed mountains. There are some lovely hills along the North Shore of Lake Superior. But they are hills, not mountains. They might want to be mountains, but real mountains laugh at them (sorry, Lutsen).
I needed the “Call of the Wild.” The forests I grew up near are most definitely wilderness, but American history has attached a specific mythology to the West. I wanted to build on that mythology. The West evokes a spirit of freedom, hardship, and discovery that doesn’t quite resonate with more easterly locations in the U.S.
Place becomes even more powerful in narratives if the book’s setting is in touch with its own history. Again, Kirsten did a marvelous job in carrying echoes of the past into the present in The Eternal Ones. Though Nightshade is set in present-day Colorado, I’ve tied the wildness of the West with the history of witchcraft and warfare of medieval Europe. The events affecting Calla and her pack connect to an unbroken line of conflicts stretching across centuries and an ocean.
Bringing together place and time adds depth to a world and further complicates the motivations and choices of its characters. I hope Nightshade’s readers will feel the push and pull of past and present, history and myth as they join Calla on her journey.