As I prepared for the re-release of my Lycanthropy Files series, I noticed a theme. They’re classfied as urban fantasy, but I joke that the series is technically suburban or even rural fantasy because the stories don’t take place in big cities. I don’t have anything against cities – I live in Atlanta, after all – but writing is an escape for me, so it makes sense for me to go to the woods, which I love. In fact, my favorite writing spaces are where I feel like I’m close to nature, and there’s a scientific reason for my preferences.
My preferred writing space at home is my covered back patio. I joke that, which when the weather is nice enough, it’s my favorite room of the house. It looks out over my tiny back yard and kitchen garden, but it’s surrounded by trees and shrubbery and feels like a secluded space. We’re looking at doing some home improvements, and adding a screen to either it or the front porch. Yes, mosquitoes love me. No, I’m not that sweet. My other favorite writing space is the back porch of my parents’ place in Blairsville, which is in the North Georgia Mountains. It backs up to national forest land, so it’s fairly private. When I need an inspiration pause, I look up from my laptop and gaze over waves of trees and mountains, which are lovely even during the times of year when there aren’t leaves on the trees. There’s a stream I can hear but not see, and the sound of the water also helps me to relax and feel creative.
My preference for taking mental breaks by looking at wooded areas isn’t unique. When I started my practice, I shared space with a psychologist who insisted that her office needed to have a view of trees. I felt the same way but didn’t know why until I was researching a guest blog post for around the time the first Lycanthropy Files book, The Mountain’s Shadow, originally came out. It turns out that looking at the color green can enhance creativity. In one study, participants logged into a creativity test through a mostly green or white screen. The ones who entered the test through the green screen scored 20% higher on the test, a significant result. The results were the same when the green exposure was compared to other colors like blue or red.
My characters also go out to gaze at the woods to think. Joanie, the heroine in The Mountain’s Shadow, goes out to her grandfather’s favorite thinking spot in Chapter Twelve to get away from the chaos at Wolfsbane Manor and put all her recent discoveries together into something that makes sense:
I walked across the lawn and resisted the urge to look back and see if I was being followed, or at least watched. I found the trail leading into the woods and took the north fork, which would bring me to a bluff over the river and my grandfather’s “thinking spot”. It was amazing how quickly my feet remembered the terrain, the dirt path with underlying rock exposed by the rain and erosion. I wondered if anyone else had been this way recently, if my grandfather had gone out to his thinking spot soon before he had disappeared. The sunlight made dappled patterns through the leaves, but the slight metallic smell in the air told me a storm was building close by. I didn’t care—a little rain wouldn’t hurt me.
I stepped on to the bluff and walked to the front, where a boulder with an indentation that was just the perfect size for an adult bottom stood and looked over the woods and the land below. To the left, a few small trees held on, but there was mostly a drop-off. I could see across the hills, the trees a patchwork of green with fading that hinted at autumn but no true color yet. Below me, the river whispered, but I could only see glimpses of it through the greenery. I sat on a rock and watched the clouds, felt the space, and was reminded this was the first time I’d been truly alone in almost a week.
So if you’re looking to jump start your own creativity, consider looking at something green. It doesn’t have to be a tree, but there are other benefits to getting out into nature, too. And hey, if you’re looking for something to read as you sit on a bluff overlooking a stream this holiday weekend, The Mountain’s Shadow is re-releasing on Friday.
I was about to solve the puzzle of the latest childhood disorder du jour – Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome – when my lab went up in flames, my job went down the tubes, and my lover went back to his ex.
When I found out my grandfather left me his multi-million-dollar estate in the rugged Ozark Mountains in his will, I thought my luck was turning. But my inheritance came with a few problems that go way beyond layers of dust and creaky floors: kids in the area that go missing during full moons, a mysterious death, and a band of werewolves who consider the property their own private hunting ground.
I’ll have to do more than face my research again to solve the mysteries of Wolfsbane Manor and stop a horrific epidemic. I’ll have to risk love, friendship, and the only true family I have left. And possibly doom myself to the fate that killed my twin brother.
The Mountain’s Shadow will be re-releasing on Friday, and I currently have it at 99 cents. Want to grab your own copy? Click here or on the book cover for a landing page with buy links. If you want a longer excerpt and sampling of reviews, click here to go to the book page on my website.