I've had a breakthrough with my novel Night is Falling:
I had originally been planning on setting this book firmly in the area of Crater Lake and featuring the Klamath tribes who live in the region, I've even collected quite a bit of info about them, their culture, and the legends surrounding the Crater Lake over the last year or two I've been fiddling with this book. Why? Well, this book is about aliens and isolation, a feeling of separateness and desperation that overcome a person when they're watching their people disappear one by one. An isolation made even larger by never having belonged in the first place and not knowing how to make the others see that you are trying to help them see the danger looming all around them.
However, I've always struggled with how out of place it felt and been concerned if I was going to screw it all up both in terms of representing the culture and region properly and truly feeling at home in the story if I couldn't be sure of those elements. I'm also a person who can appreciate a good couple episodes of X-files or movies featuring aliens but who also really never saw them as being a real thing in our actual world, so can I really believably convey a book about invasion and aliens that doesn't come off like what everyone has already read or rolled their eyes at? More importantly, can I make it have a serious impact that makes it both emotionally moving and chilling? Between all of that and the moving around we've been doing in the last year and change I've been yanked in and out of working on the book. Can you believe I thought this book was going to be one of my easy ones with minimal planning?
Well, last night we were driving and talking about all sorts of things, as we always seem to do when we're in the car, and I came to thinking about some of my own past and ancestry because we were talking about that funny little region around Chillicothe/Waverly/Peebles where my paternal grandparents and some of our other family originally settled down after leaving Kentucky. A place where some of our family still live today. This got the gears going about so many things, the poverty levels of the region, the broken down people dependent on the factory industry that seemed to come and go and change so often over the decades, the history it still represents even now, and the native population who saw fit to have built the Serpent Mound there a very long time before all of it- the natives to whom my own DNA is connected.
What is this Serpent Mound?
I understand if maybe you haven't heard of it, its a regional thing, I grew up with it, and if memory serves, I even walked around the place when I was small with my eldest younger brother and possibly also brother number two ( I am the eldest of 5 kids, 3 of them brothers) when I was small enough for it all to be faded to a lot of sunshine and green hills that felt "happy" while I walked around with my family.
Well, here's the basic info for you. Once, a very long time ago in 1000 B C, the Fort Ancient culture (which later became the Adena and later at least influenced the Ojibwa and Anishinaabe cultures) saw fit to build this serpent shaped mound on a spur of rock which overlooked Ohio Brush Creek near a massive crater created by an asteroid that hit about 300 million year ago- needless to say, this was a sacred space for them, an axis mundi between Spirit and earth. Due to a very curious man named Francis Ward Putnam's "research" (lets be honest here, most of these dudes were digging in people's sacred burial sites with very little understanding of the damage they did) between 1886 and 1889 (his research made this the first archaeological preserve in the US btw) here in Ohio and the work of many others in other states like Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Kentucky and parts of New England a great deal was found out about what were labelled the "Mound People" of ancient post glacial shift North America and a whole hell of a lot of legends were started about "star people", magic growth properties of seeds which were in the presence of the mounds, and a whole host of other mysticism and other "mysterious goings on" Peebles itself has all sorts of legends rolling around- including crop circles and a supposed hidden air force base.
Yeah, I think you know where I'm headed here.
OMG why was I so oblivious as to not think of using what I know and genuinely have a personal link to instead of something so far away from me I might fuck it up? I have a genuine chance to talk about my weird little Irish/Scot /Welsh and Native (Blackfoot, Cherokee, Anishinaabe, and possibly Mandan, most of whom are linked with the Adena in some fashion) blended Appalachian roots through my character and use it as a way to more deeply connect with my ancestral history! That is sooo something I've been open to the idea of exploring like this! Anywho, I'm changing the premise to suit this region and people, and I feel way more grounded in it now, even genuinely excited about the idea again!