We had a major winter storm go through our part of the world this week. My house was without power for several days. Some people are still without electricity, although we hear that should be remedied soon. We hope so, because it is tough in the dark of winter here in the north with no heat or lights, and our friends have suffered terribly. Fortunately, once our power was back on we were able to open our home to our friends for showers, charging cell phones and laptops, and a hot meal.
Everywhere you look on the drive to town, trees are broken, and destroyed. It is sad, because some of these trees were beautiful old things, whose passing will leave holes in the landscape.
In my book, Tower of Bones, I write about a landscape that has been devastated, first by war, and secondly by the slow, deliberate poisoning of the environment. The God Tauron seeks to change Neveyah into a copy of his own desert world of Serende. At the time of our story, the immense crater Valley of Mal Evol is a wasteland of thorn-bushes and scorpions. Few people live there, and those who do are slaves to the Legions of D’Mal, the minotaur soldiers of the Bull God.
I live 60 miles due north of Mt. St. Helens, an active stratovolcano that has erupted several times in my lifetime. As a teenager in 1970, 10 years before the eruption, my earth-science class visited the lava-tubes that were popular tourist destinations in those days. The volcano was considered to be of no threat to anyone, practically dead, really. It had a beautiful shape to it, and was featured on calendars and postcards for its beauty and majesty. The verdant forests were tall and thick, mostly Douglas Fir and Cedar. Spirit Lake, at its bas, was a playground for summer vacationers. My family spent many summer holidays at the campgrounds, and the lodge there.
All that changed overnight, when the mountain erupted. You could see the ash column quite clearly from the lake that I was fishing at that morning, and you knew that something really bad had happened there. Once the pictures began coming in, we were horrified by the extent of the devastation.
But here is where I will connect all of my thoughts together. Once the eruption was over, the ecology immediately began a comeback. Today, the forests are returning, and if they are not as tall as they once were, they are at least green, and providing habitat for the wildlife. This tells me that the scars left behind by the storm that destroyed the trees and landscape here this last week will soon be erased by the new growth. It will be different, but it will be home.
That destruction of the ecology is one of the underlying themes of the book, Tower of Bones. The devastation of Mal Evol looks permanent, and is terrible to those who know what it once was like. Having been privileged to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, the ecology of the real world is very important to me, and that emerged in my writing of this book.
Danielle Raver did a beautiful edit of this book, trimming 6000 words and tightening it up. Under her scalpel, the story emerged, fully as I had always known it could be. The tale that began life as a walk-through for a computer game that was never built is now the book that I hoped it would be. Pamela Brennan and J Darroll Hall are hard at work, shaping the interior structure for the print version and Ceri Clark is tweaking the book cover for the print version.
Now, I am back to work on ‘Billy’s Revenge’, the next installment in ‘The Last Good Knight’ series, a book featuring the adventures of Huw the Bard and Billy Nine-fingers. I am also working on another book set in Neveyah, one that is a prequel to the Tower of Bones.
Busy, busy, busy!
I am far too busy to do housework, or cook.