Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Inspiration Week: The Forest

Hello, internet!

This week, The Larkin Lair is going to present you with a special treat*. Every day, leading up to Saturday, I am going to put up a post discussing the things that most inspired me as I began writing my series, Lorelei, Once. Then, on Saturday--which I think we can all agree is the best day of the week--I will post the first chapter from Book 1: Siren.

Today, we're going to explore the setting of Book 1.

One day, any day, you go for a walk.


You know the safe path, of course. You're not stupid, not like the children you hear about in old wive's tales--and you know better than to traipse into the Whisper Wood. Even if it is clearly a shortcut to your destination. Why, you can see the other side of the path from where you're standing. It's just a little zip through the misty woods--and they're not even misty today!--and you'll have cut out half a day's journey.

That's not stupid at all. You're not like the children in the stories--you're not looking for candy houses, you're just being practical.
Looks legit!
It should be five, maybe ten minutes at most. You cut through the very corner of the Whisper Wood--it's hardly even the Whisper Wood at all!
Maybe a LITTLE misty.

It has grown rather dark, but that's just the trees overhead, choking out the sun. Trees do that. And those sounds--it may seem like voices now, but that's just your mind being silly with the name of the place. You know that it's only wind.

But your shortcut does seem to have stretched out longer than expected. Because you're wiser than the dumb children that get lost in fairy tales, you know that it's time to head back. A simple matter of finding your old path, following it back, and then accepting some good-natured ribbing from your friends and family for taking twice as long as you should have on a simple errand.

"Really, how long does it take to buy new shoe buckles?"

That is the moon. You set out in the morning for a little walk and now that is the moon, watching you, inching across the sky faster than you are running through the forest, desperate to find a way out, to find some sort of shelter, to escape the whispers. And that is all they are--whispers. Not shouts, not cries. But whispers. From beneath bushes, hiding behind trees, nestled in your ear.

It's not just whispers anymore.

There are lights, but there is nothing friendly about them. They dance in the shadows, teasing you, drawing you close only to wink out the moment you reach them. And then, when all is dark again, the whispers return.

Just as you are ready to lie down, to accept whatever comes for you, the sun rises.

You need many things: Food. Rest. Water. But you know better than to stop now, and with the return of the sunlight, you find the strength to keep walking.

You find a clearing. There, you see the sweetest thing ever to manifest in any wood, haunted or not.

As you lower your head to take what must be the greatest drink you have ever had, you could swear there was music in the air.


Many, many other works of literature have employed the idea that there is something magical about nature--and that forests and woods are where the faeries live. Hauntings are popular in wooded areas, too.

I was once floundering for an idea--I needed something to write. Anything. I had just accepted that the book I spent three years working on was not going to make it to the next stage of the publishing world (namely, agent interest) and I was feeling supremely uninspired.

A friend of mine--also a writer--suggested I deal with some of my memories. He particularly enjoyed the ones I'd shared with him about running wild in the woods of West Virginia--usually barefoot, with Broseph, experiencing a sort of freedom that you just can't get with proper adult supervision. These are happy memories, and probably made more feral by my imagination than they actually were in reality.

But I was, as suggested, in rather a dark mood. And so as I sat down to write about these childhood jaunts, the images in my head turned a few shades darker. I saw the forest as something immense, carved from shadow, intimidating and hungry.

I saw the children running through the leaves as happy, yeah, but also pale. Yellow-eyed. Sharp-toothed. And absolutely delighted when they convinced a stranger to chase them into the woods--ultimately leading them into a shimmering black pool. The waters would turn, and rather than the stranger, another pale child would emerge. Yellow-eyed. Sharp-toothed. And ready for another chase.

I rather liked the idea, and so the forest--which would eventually be named the Whisper Wood, was born.

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