It comes from the least likely places. A word here. A sentence there. A name. A concept. A trivial fact around a bigger event. I never know when it will hit, why it hits, or how deeply it will hit. But when I get that skip in my heartbeat, that catch in my breath, I know.
Right now that heightened interest is focused around a little piece of history in an area very dear to my heart. The White Mountains in beautiful New Hampshire. I love the mountains. Perhaps it’s because I feel the very essence of my grandfather, Jack, is wandering the trails and I’m connected to him there. He’s my constant hiking companion. I love everything about the mountains, actually. The smell of the air, the feel of the ground beneath my hiking boots, the incredible, overwhelming view from the peaks. When I first see a glimpse of Franconia Notch on 93 North, or the peak of Chocorua when returning from Maine via Ossipee, my heart rejoices. I smile. I’m home. So when I wanted to merge my passions (writing, hiking, history), I naturally turned my attention in that direction.
The first thing I stumbled on was the abandoned mill community of Livermore in the heart of the White Mountains. It’s nothing but foundations reclaimed by the land now, but the echo of history remains, reverberating through time. It was as simple as that. A town, long since forgotten. And so the research began. Old, out of print books have been found and acquired. Livermore is a tiny part of a much larger topic and I’m captivated with a logging history I never knew existed. I’ve hiked these trails, never giving thought to the ravages to the land that took place over a hundred years ago. I see pictures and it changes my entire outlook on my beloved mountains. How resilient they are!
As I read, possibilities fly through my mind. Names, areas, tiny events flash, catch my imagination and I start to form the story before I even flip the page. I have the outline. I have the concept, the focus, the passion without getting past chapter 2. I know where it’s going…I can barely keep reading because I want to start immediately, want to bring the pages to life NOW. But I don’t. I make notes and I keep reading, because it will continue throughout the book. It will reshape, become more defined and ignite my imagination so fiercely that I’ll be consumed. I learned a long time ago, with many other overwhelming concepts, that if I stop now and don’t keep researching, I’ll miss so much. The passion will change, it will twist and grow until it’s mature enough to remain. It will stick.
As a writer, I love nothing more than picking out small pieces of history and creating a world around them. With the smallest name and circumstance, I’ve written entire novels. It starts with nothing more than a name. A paragraph in a text book. A long-forgotten piece of seemingly irrelevant history no one recalls. It was put down as an afterthought. But something grabs my attention and no matter what else I read about, it remains. The spark takes light and until I write about it, it will not die. And so it goes. A new name has caught my interest. A new tidbit. A new world is about to be born…or reborn, I should say.