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Sometimes choices that seem routine lead down unexpected paths. This has happened to me, and it happens to Griff and Valeria, the hero and heroine of my debut paranormal romance, Renegade. One memorable example of this in my life occurred when I agreed to have lunch with a guy a friend thought might be perfect for me. Twenty-five years and one boy later, we’re still meeting for lunch. Also dinner and breakfast.
The most recent example of such serendipity in my life was in the choice of the Okefenokee Swamp as a background for my mage romances. When I was in grade school, my family used to drive from North Carolina to Florida to visit relatives every summer. My parents always tried to do something fun or educational on the way down or back. One year, they decided to stop at the Okefenokee.
I’ve previously said I remember almost nothing about this trip except the name Okefenokee Swamp and my mom’s fear that a snake would fall in the boat. I don’t remember whether we actually went in a boat, though I’m pretty sure I’d remember if we’d encountered a snake. The Okefenokee was the setting of the late Walt Kelly’s comic strip, Pogo, so the name stayed in front of me for a while, but I soon forgot about it. Pogo is pictured on the water tank at left.
It popped up again when I was trying to build a world for my mages. I wanted something spooky that hadn’t already been used by a lot of people. As I’ve mentioned at other times, I suggested the Okefenokee Swamp to my brainstorming group. I’d researched it on the internet (http://www.fws.gov/okefenokee/), and it looked as though it had a lot of possibilities. This book, set in this world, gave me my first sale. But I’m not sure I would’ve thought of the swamp if not for that barely remembered side trip my parents chose for us.
Once the books were actually going forward, more research seemed in order, so we stopped at the Okefenokee, as some of you know, this past May. Driving into the refuge, I told the dh and the boy, “I hope this is as cool as I think it is because I’m stuck with it now.” It was not only cool but amazing. I fell in love with the place. It had far more potential than I had realized, and seeing it gave me a lot of ideas.
Serendipity took me there in the first place, and it laid the ground work for the world Griff and Val and their fellow mages inhabit. These two also have apparently routine choices lead them down paths that will change their lives. Val stops for dinner in the imaginary town of Wayfarer, Georgia, sees ghouls attacking Mundanes, and saves the victims, only to become a prisoner in their stead.
Griff hears her magical cry for help and goes to her assistance. That rescue will change both their lives, as the routine task of listening to a witness catapulted Griff from shire reeve (sheriff) to fugitive in a single day.
The hero and heroine riding into the sunset together is kind of a cliché, so I’ll tell you their book doesn’t end with a sunset. My Friday did, though, and I’d like to share that image with you. The dh and I went back to the Okefenokee and took a sunset cruise. It went past Chesser Prairie, which is pictured above. The water level is higher now, thanks to a June hurricane, so the prairie looks a little different. (In the Okefenokee, a prairie is actually a submerged area.) This photo shows how our Friday ended, all because of a side trip my parents casually decided to take so many years ago.
Have apparently insignificant choices led to big changes in your life? Can you think of a book or a movie where such a choice led to something bigger, for good or ill?
I’ll give away a download of Renegade, Nook or Kindle format, US/Canada only, and a Keeper Kase to one randomly chosen person leaving a comment.
She Follows the Rules
As the mage council’s sheriff for the southeastern United States, Valeria Banning doesn’t just take her job seriously, she takes it personally. So when a notorious fugitive and supposed traitor risks his life to save hers, she has to wonder why. To find the answer, she’ll have to put everything on the line, starting with her heart.
He Breaks Every One of Them
As a mage, Griffin Dare is sworn to protect innocents from dark magic, which is how he finds himself fighting side by side with the beautiful Valeria Banning. But when the council finds out the two have been working together, the pair must run for their lives–from the law, the threat of a ghoul takeover, and a possible council mole.