Admit it. How many of you older readers ever wished you could be Nancy Drew or a Hardy boy? Me? I always wanted to be Trixie Belden. She traveled to strange places and solved mysteries. I want to do that.
That’s the great thing about being a writer. We CAN do that. We can live out our fantasies vicariously through our characters. Ever watch the show Castle? Then you know what I’m talking about.
So, here’s the deal, pickle, grad school is over. I’m back to a regular schedule, and it’s almost fall, my favorite time of the year, my most productive time of the year. And I’m inspired.
Our school offers a Books for Fun program that sells unusual books to teachers for a low, low price. I’m always in! I picked up Weird Tennessee at the end of last year, and I can’t put it down. Written by Roger Manley, the book is a travel guide to local legends and secret places.
Oh, yeah! My kind of book! One day I’ll have a cabin that I can steal away to and write and research, but for now I’ll clear a spot on my cluttered desk, and share with you a few places on my “adventure list.” I’ll leave out the most common spots and ones I have already mentioned in previous blogs.
When writers visit a place, they ignite their imaginations with all of their senses, and stories seem to organically appear. I have a favorite get-away I like to visit, a place filled with mystery and intrigue. I’ve been visiting this place for quite a long time. Then out of the blue one night, I dreamed an entire novel about the place. Isn’t it peculiar how the mind works? But in case you are in need of new material, here are a few spots to fuel your imagination.
So here goes: Part 1—My Top Ten List of Mysterious Writing Adventures
1. Ebbing and Flowing Spring
Ever wished a love potion really existed? The people in Hawkins County believe a place in their community may hold special powers to bring lovers together. Ebbing and Flowing Springs maintains a constant 34 degrees F year round, but it goes from a small trickle into an impressive gush of more than five hundred gallons a minute. Of course, there’s a legend that provides “proof.” The story dates back to before the American Revolution when Col. Thomas Amis discovered the spring. His daughter fell in love with Joseph Rogers, of whom the colonel was not particularly found. The two young people shared a cup of water from the spring, and, well, their story ended happily ever after. I’m no romance writer, but I like love stories. Okay, so maybe you don’t. Here’s an interesting fact for you. The spring is only one of two cyclical (tidal) springs in the world. What this means is the underground channel makes an s-bend, so the spring kind of flushes like a toilet. There. Does that make you feel better?
2. Ley Lines of Tennessee
You say you never heard of them? I bet you have. You’ve heard of places like Stonehenge that are supposed to possess unusual psychic or mystical energy. Old Stone Fort in my little town has been said by some to be one of these weird places. Fantasy writers incorporate places like this into their writings quite frequently. For example, L. J. Smith refers to ley lines in his book series the Vampire Diaries quite frequently. My line of writing is better suited to the Christian Book Retailers, so I’m more familiar with the writer Stephen R. Lawhead, who refers to ley lines as portals to travel through various universes in his Bright Empires series. It’s related to string theory, which I know nothing about, but if you’re into sci-fi, Google it. What I do know is that Lawhead was the former manager of the Christian rock band DeGarmo and Key and a former Northern Baptist Theological Seminary student. He’s really into celtic fiction and has won numerous awards as a Christian writer.
But back to the story…ley lines. There’s a place in Monroe County where mysterious crop circles appeared. Although copy cat hoax circles appeared later, the original circles were deemed authentic. Researchers found a large number of springs, caverns, and archaeological sites in the area, including a ley line similar to those found in Europe. No one knows how the crop circles were created or who created them. There’s an opportunity for a story. Turn on those critical thinking skills. Ask yourself how and why, and let your imagination flow. You may end up in an alternate universe.
3. The Vanishing Farmer
Here’s another story that reminds me of the Twilight Zone. On State Road 174 (Hollow Pike) near Gallatin, there is a place that is the site of a mysterious vanishing. Farmer David Lang disappeared into thin air in the presence of two witnesses. No one can explain what happened to him. He was in midstep. Then poof! He was gone. There are no logical explanations—no sinkholes, no underground cavities. Did Lang wander into a black hole, or is there another explanation?
4. The Wampas Cat
Okay, my students have been telling me about the Wampus Cat for years. Supposedly it resides near in the mountainous areas of Chattanooga, Erwin, Bristol, and Knoxville, but a few of my students claimed to have seen one in Middle Tennessee. The Wampas Cat is a large, catlike creature that has large, glowing yellow eyes, mottled fur, and erect ears. It supposedly walks on its hind legs. The Cherokee legend describes the Wampas Cat as a half-woman, half-cat, who was cursed due to her jealousy.
5. God’s Tree House
Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of living in a log cabin. Both my dad and I used to draw pictures of cabins. Sometimes when I’m rummaging through his belongings, I’ll find his drawings.There’s just something special about living in the middle of nature. Other people have different ideas of dream homes that are close to nature. How about a tree house? There’s a place near Crossville in Cumberland County at the end of Beehive lane where gawkers can gaze at a “ten-story ark of a building” that is, in fact, a tree house that’s wedged in an old beech tree. The tree house has one floor that is a sanctuary big enough for a basketball court. And has been used as such. The tree house contains a spiral staircase, a bell tower, and more than 258,000 nails. According to Horace Burgess, the owner and architect, his mission to build the house came from God, and, thus, he says the house belongs to Him. In some ways, he is like a modern-day Noah. Only God didn’t give him exact dimensions. I think it would make a great setting for a novel, especially YA. I’m definitely going to have to check this one out.
Stay tuned for the next blog: Part 2—My Top Ten List of Mysterious Writing Adventures