Tranquil places far from the demands of my keyboard are necessary escapes to keeping my imagination free to travel – anywhere. Less than an hour from our home on the Olympic Peninsula, I’ve found such an idyllic locale along the shore of Lake Crescent. Last week, my husband and I bundled up on a rainy morning to make the trip along the narrow 101 to the National Park Lodge for a much-needed getaway.
After a tasty breakfast, we planted ourselves on two cushioned, wicker chairs in the lodge sunroom overlooking the lake. It wasn’t hard to let imagination transport me into a cozy mystery novel in someone’s Victorian lake house. With its worn wood floors and floor-to-ceiling windows, I had to work to pull my focus back to the Brandon Sanderson fantasy novel I’d brought with me. On this particular morning low clouds hovered above the water obscuring most of the mountains that border the twelve-mile-long lake. For awhile the view was less of a distraction so the world of the final empire drew me in.
Soon the clouds lifted, revealing Storm King and Pyramid Peak. Tourists ambled out onto the wooden dock for selfies. The view and the aroma of the lady’s coffee next to me became too distracting. Putting my finger in the book to mark my place, I wiggled a bit deeper into the cushions to watch the winds stir up a tempest on the waters. This National Park lacks the distinct rock formations of others, such as Yosemite, so one can imagine sitting in any of a dozen exotic locales, Switzerland, New Zealand or even Lake Luthadel.
That’s why I’m drawn back there. I find that settings are the catalyst to most of my writing. It’s far easier for me to create a character once I’ve seen their world. That was certainly true with the Distant Shores of Home series when I first visited Fort Ross. The Sonoma Coastline along the twisty 101 is inspiration enough for multiple historical novels. By the time we left, my fingers were itching to write again. I also needed to get home and brew a cup of coffee.
By Jan Karol Tanaka
B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree