Next up on Place as Person we have Tiffany Trent, author of ‘The Unnaturalists’ and the ‘Hallowmere’ series. The way she speaks of place certainly has me fooled – I love the ‘write to know.’
Thanks for joining us, Tiffany.
I am at a loss as to what it is about water that resonates so personally for me. After all, I am a fire child—born during the dog days of summer when the dust and heat are thick on the tongue and the locusts whine for rain that never falls. Water has never been particularly fond of me (or perhaps too fond). I have nearly drowned in its green depths, been slapped and tumbled and hauled out on the sand, nearly lost a boat to its greedy foam-fingers.
And yet…it’s a magical thing. Perhaps the water in me calls out to the water outside. Were we not filled with our own blood-tide, I can’t imagine what we’d be. When Alma suggested this project, I had just moved from the shore of an ocean I loved back to its source in the mountains of my birth. It seemed hardly a coincidence that she asked me to write the origin story for RIVER. I was happy to oblige, bent as I was on re-discovering my own origins, having left them for so long.
These days, I live on a very bold stream, almost a little river, called Sinking Creek. As its name suggests, it sinks through the limestone caverns of the Blue Ridge Mountains rising up into the valleys before it finds its way into the New River. The New, the only American river that flows north, is also the oldest river on the continent.
It’s the strange tension between all these things that informed what ultimately became “The Well-Keeper and the Wolf.” A creek that sinks and rises, invisible and then appearing again. A river that is both old and New. A place founded in love that can never be requited, and the tension that rests between desire and despair. These are the things that I think of when I walk along these singing, green creeks or sit beneath the white arms of some ancient sycamore. I could imagine such a lovelorn pair trapped in a cavern deep at the roots of these mountains of my birth, so it wasn’t hard to imagine them in the forests of RIVER.
I think it has been said often by many writers that they don’t write what they know so much as that they write to know. I am certainly one of those. Though I know these hills as I know my own blood and bones, there are still many mysteries, many things I can’t explain. Telling stories is a way to do that, to connect with the numinous, that presence you feel in a particular place but can’t explain. It’s been such a pleasure to have a chance to explore these things with my fellow authors in RIVER.
Tiffany Trent is the author of YA steampunk THE UNNATURALISTS (Aug 2012, Simon & Schuster) and the dark historical YA HALLOWMERE series, of which the first book, IN THE SERPENT’S COILS, was named an IndieNext Children’s Pick for 2007 and a New York Public Library Book of the Teenage for 2008. She has also been published in Magic in the MIrrorstone, Corsets and Clockwork, and Subterranean magazine, as well as many nonfiction outlets. When not writing, she is busy playing with bees, taming her jungle of a garden, or chasing bears with her wildlife biologist husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Find out more about Tiffany on www.tiffanytrent.com