As many of you know, I am currently rewritting my first novel, Hunters Unlucky. You can read it for free as I work on it, along with my commontary.
The funny thing about Hunters is that it has secrets, even from me. I know where all the elements in my later books came from, but there are things in Hunters dredged from my early childhood, which I have forgotten.
I've recently been on assignment at a hospital in Arizona. About a month ago, I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, as well as other fantastic canyons and rock formations in this part of the country.
Something about them seemed familiar. The red rock, sculpted sandstone, boulders, and caves... I'd never seen it before, but it reminded me of my mental images of Lidian. Finally, I recalled a book from my school library that I read when I was maybe 7 or 8 called Brighty of the Grand Canyon (about a burrow living in the canyon). And I remembered! That's where the red cliffs of Lidian came from. The whole idea of moving to and from and over these towering cliffs in a seasonal pattern...it came from that book...even though I grew up in Florida, and I'd never seen country like that before.
I had forgotten until I actually saw the Grand Canyon. It's interesting - the way certain images and ideas seed our imaginations and then bloom years or decades later.
I thought of this when I read about a project called Fill the Shelves. The site hooks readers up with the Amazon Wish Lists of school libraries around the country. These libraries have appaulingly empty shelves and no budgets to fill them. You can go to the school's Amazon Wishlist, pick out a book for them, and it gets shipped direclty to the school. It's a pretty awesome project, and I bought them a few books. I hope the next generation finds books in their libraries to seed their imaginations and conjur their own other worlds.