Monday, May 10, 2010

Magic All Around -- A Guest Post by Janet Fox (author of Faithful)

The main reason I chose to set my novel Faithful in Yellowstone National Park is that I have a soft spot for books with hints of magic. Maggie’s story is decidedly down to earth; it’s not a fantasy (not that I wouldn’t mind writing one…they’re some of my favorites…). There’s so much that’s fantastic about the Yellowstone region that placing Maggie’s story there was like choosing the perfect frame for a painting.

There are people who run around the geyser basins in Yellowstone and call themselves “geyser gazers.” They chase from one eruption to the next, using walkie-talkies and basing predictions about when some big geyser will erupt on the way a pool fills or how many bubbles appear on the surface. Geeky? Yup. Fun? Oh, gosh yes, especially when one of the unpredictable big geysers erupts and you’re there to see it. You can feel the power of it under your feet, the ground rumbling in the seconds before a fountain of steaming water – 300 feet high or more – shoots into the sky only a few yards away from where you’re standing. I like to think about what the first humans would have thought of the geyser basins: pits of hell? Or god-like power?

And then there are the animals. Some of the largest mammals on earth wander through the Park – buffalo, elk, moose – and some of the scariest – wolves, grizzly bears, mountain lions. You never know when you’ll see one meander across the road in front of your car, or (as happened to me last year, with a buffalo) walk right up to your (closed, always!) window and peer at you with one giant eyeball that’s level with your steering wheel.

The thing about magic is that it’s unpredictable. That’s what makes it fun to read about and write about. And Yellowstone is entirely unpredictable. You never know when you’ll top a ridge and the sky will open before you into a sweep of blue hanging over a meadow filled with wildflowers, or when you’ll turn a corner on a trail and look into a hot spring so turquoise clear you can see twenty feet down.

Which is why I love Yellowstone and decided to put Maggie there in Faithful – it’s magic.

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