Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Vicarious Wallow

Doranna Durgin writes across genres to include fantasy, mystery, tie-ins and various flavors of romance--from the action-oriented Bombshells to her latest paranormal release, STORM OF RECKONING; she also manages the Backlist eBooks project with author partner-in-crime Patricia Ryan. She spends what's left of her time hanging around with horses, dogs, and wildflowers--all of which inspired the commentary to follow.And be sure to read the entire post for instructions for winning one of Doranna's books.

And while Doranna is my guest, I'm being featured at Daily Cheap Reads. Hope you'll pop over there, too.

Welcome, Doranna:

I spend a lot of time outside.

When you add up the bird-watching, the flower-prowling, the agility training, and the horsie back riding...yeah, I spend a lot of time outside, and always have.

I started out working as a park naturalist in Ohio and then headed to the deepest Appalachians (100 acres, log cabin, endless mountain ridges); from there, I had an interlude in the western New York suburbs. I eventually escaped to the rural southwest--first to the amazing world of Flagstaff's San Francisco Peaks, then to Albuquerque's unique South Valley, and most recently through the pass to the Tijeras Canyon foothills.

That's where I am now, and that's where, barring significant surprise, I'll stay.

It's a journey that spans a treasury of different ecosystems, different weather patterns, different critters. It includes the richest riparian forest; chill flat hickory and chokecherry woods; the rarified air of high desert, snow pack, and ponderosa pines; the hot bosque valley of the Rio Grande--and now the windward foothills of another sacred mountain. Totally different flavors of life, and they've all become part of me.

All absorbed right through to my writing.

At first I resisted the lure of using my personal worlds in my writing. And at first the resisting was easier--I was creating worlds for my fantasy novels, so I could use what I knew without being (too) obviously referential about it.

But then I started writing more contemporaries. And while I can and have researched the ecological details of Far Distant Places, my own closer places keep wanting to come out. (Most recently, this means a book of luxuriating in the complexity of Sedona, Arizona--from the striking red rocks to the deep canyons. As if I could resist!)

It's more than just the convenience of it--although the convenience of weaving location through the plot-building process can't be denied. But it's because...you know, writing is about sharing what drives you, and about what means something to you. And I don't just live in these places, I live as part of them, soaking them in…wallowing in them, if I can wax just a little bit poetic. So I love these worlds of mine...and I want readers to love them, too.

Here's where it gets into nefarious deeper layers. Ulterior motives, even.

Because the things you know and love become things not so easily dismissed. If you know--even vicariously--the scent of the ponderosa pine, the deep green needles, the ridged, red-tinted bark...then when climate change makes them vulnerable to the pine bark beetle, maybe it matters just a little bit. When fire rages through the mountains due to perfect storm conditions created by man's intervention with natural cleansing fires, then maybe suddenly allocating resources to forest management matters, too.

And if it matters to enough people, then maybe it makes a difference.

One can hope.

So I guess that makes me an environmental proselytizer.

But you know, mainly...it's because writing where I am is about writing what I am, and what I know and love--and being able to share that so it changes just a little bit of something in someone else. It's what I want to be able to say about my writing…that on some level, it matters.

Isn't that what we all want?

Those who comment are automatically entered to win an ARC of THE RECKONERS (the book that kicked off The Reckoners series last year) --I'll pick a winner at the end of the week. It's your choice whether you leave your email or check back here at the blog. See you in the comments!

You can learn more about Doranna's inner workings/horse/dogs/books at her Webstead, or at her blog, WordPlay, or even at FaceBook; the Backlist eBooks project is an easy find at BacklisteBooks.com


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Through my couple of times in Sedona, I can imagine that it has to be an absolutely fabulous backdrop for any type of book.

tyrca said...

I'm writing a YA fantasy set in a fictional town between Moriarty and Santa Rosa. I love it because I can put in the subtle smells and tastes of the desert, and it's different from the 'urban' settings one usually finds. I love how the imagery ties the story more firmly into a sort of reality.

Laurie A. Green said...

I recognize that country, Doranna! :) Of course, this morning it's under about a foot of fresh snow...and more on the way. :(

I think my environment definitely influences my muse. It can be visual and aroma therapy for the soul. The scent of mountain pinon and rain on the dry, fragile grass. I sometimes find similar details seeping into my Science Fiction Romance settings and my characters' thoughts.

Congratulations on your release! I absolutely LOVE your title.

Julie Czerneda said...

Here I was.
A pleasure to read how your world informs your fiction, Doranna. You've always had a gift for making readers believe utterly in where they are and who they're with -- to tie that to places you yourself love is a bonus for all of us.
As I already have a copy of Reckoners -- and LOVE IT -- please don't enter me in your contest. I look forward to reading more, wherever you set it.

Gabi said...

Loved your musings, Doranna. I have to agree the Southwest has its share of beauty.
--Gabi Stevens

Linda Wisdom said...

I love those areas, Doranna. I'm in one of the desert areas of Southern CA and it does provide a lot of wonderful musings when I work.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds like an amazing place! I spend a lot of my time looking out the window here...if my landscape were as amazing as yours then I wouldn't get any work done!

Doranna said...

Hey, wow, thanks for such a great welcome!

Jane, yes, as a location Sedona offers a little bit of everything. 8)

Tyrca...*is* there anywhere between Moriarty and Santa Rosa? ;> Actually, we'll be driving right through your fiction world on the way to an agility trial this weekend.

Laurie--we've got that snow here, too. Pictures in my blog tomorrow! (And I'm so glad you like the title!)

Julie: [[hugs]]

Gabi--yes, I love it here!

Linda--it's the Big Sky effect

Elizabeth--I'll never cop to be lured out with the binoculars or camera. Oh no. Never. ;>


Miriam Minger said...

Have always wanted to visit Sedona. Love your musings, too, Doranna!

Miriam Minger

Jemi Fraser said...

Beautiful! I haven't included my own 'backyard' in any settings yet - but I use bits and pieces of it because it is gorgeous! :)

Linda Henderson said...

It's nice getting to know a little bit about an author. I always enjoyed your Bombshells and really hated to see that line end. I would love to read The Reckoners.

Shea Berkley said...

The Southwest has a beauty that few have experienced and not come away changed. I love reading about places I've been to.

Sheree said...

My college friends and I spend a weekend in Sedona a few years back. The place was amazing. All that red rock. I had previously thought of Arizona as my next place to move to in order to escape the allergies I have. However, all that irrigation had changed my mind. Too bad.


Kyahgirl said...

Hi Doranna, I enjoyed reading about Sedona. I don't see how any writer can resist the lure of putting what matters to them into their books. I really enjoy reading your dog and horse stories over at your Wordplay blog because you have such an amazing gift for characterizing animals in your stories.
I recently read the three 'Right Bitch' short stories and just loved those dogs! Somehow I could hear Connery Beagle snuffling in the background.
Anyway, I too already own The Reckoners so you don't need to put my in the hat. I'm eagerly anticipating my 'Storm of Reckoning' in the mail any day now.

Doranna said...

Miriam, I hope you get to visit Sedona one of these days! It's worth a whole vacation...

Jemi--who could resist, right?

Linda--it is SO COOL to hear from a Bombshell reader! How I loved that line!

Shea--I agree, once you see it out here, you look at things a little differently.

Sheree--the irrigation in the valley, you mean? Boy, does that make me cringe, too. Still, sometimes you can escape the allergies just because it's a different pollen, especially once you're out of the valley.

Kyahgirl, you warm my heart! Connery wasn't even an egg when I wrote those stories, but his hound predecessors were in my heart, for sure.