Between the Lines: Hiking the trails of a fictional forest #amwriting #research #wilderness #experience

When I was writing The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, I envisioned a forest where Tara and Grant would go hiking. I based it on the description and photos of the Franklin-Marion State Forest on the Cumberland Plateau in southern Tennessee. Since I had not been to that area, I drew upon my memory of other hikes I’ve taken in various parts of America to fill in the details of my fictional forest where they stumble upon Raven Hollow. I determined that I wanted to visit the forest for myself so I could share pictures of it with you. What with the weather and then moving from Tennessee into Alabama, it’s been months I’ve waited. But finally…

Last week orme-road-2.jpgI talked about my recent trip to the Russell Cave National Monument before we continued on into Tennessee to visit the state forest. One of the roads we took I wouldn’t recommend even if we did laugh our way along its gravel and sometimes paved surface. Talk about some rough going! I wished we’d had a Jeep or something instead of the Corolla. But we made it without any issues.

IMG_2377We eventually found our way through the winding back country highways into the breathtakingly beautiful forest. We parked near a trail and then started walking. Now mind you, I’m not in the best of shape so I didn’t expect to go very far. We did go quite a ways, even met a trio on horseback enjoying the beautiful day in the woods.

I was surprised to find places where the gravel and dirt trail had turned to mud. It must have rained up IMG_2374there recently, more recently than at our house farther south. We managed to skirt some of the muddy puddles but ultimately came to a complete stop when the trail ahead and the surrounding woods turned marshy and muddy. The folks on horseback had no problem with that, but for us mere mortals on foot, that was an insurmountable obstacle so we turned back toward the car.

IMG_2375I noted several differences between my fictional forest and Raven Hollow. First, the state forest had no marked trailhead or defined parking lot like my story, so if you go to Franklin-Marion do not expect to find those. The terrain is a bit different but not too much, it was still fairly easy to hike and not too steep. I had hoped to see some wildflowers, but nothing was in bloom. I didn’t see any wildlife, not even birds let alone an unkindness of ravens, so that was rather disappointing. Oh, we did see one lone turtle crossing the road, but no other animals in the forest. But the trees and the contrasts of brown bark and green leaves were soothing and energizing at the same time.

IMG_2376Overall, though, the fictional forest in The Touchstone of Raven Hollow was pretty close to what I had conjured based on the online resources and sites I’d found.

Do you like to hike? Do you need prepared or paved trails, or are you willing to rough it more?


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The_Touchstone_of_Raven_Hollow_600x900He dug for the truth and found her magic…

Tara Golden has hidden her healing power all her life. But occasionally, she uses her abilities on people passing through town, sure they’d never figure out what saved them. Now a tall, sexy geologist is asking questions she doesn’t want to face, and he isn’t going to take no for an answer. There’s no way she would reveal her abilities and her gifted sisters for a fling.

The latest medical tests divulge geologist Grant Markel’s fatal condition is cured, but the scientist within him won’t accept it’s a miracle. When he meets the sexy, mystical witch who may hold the answer to his quest, he’s determined to prove she’s full of smoke and mirrors despite their mutual attraction.

When they are trapped in an enchanted valley, Tara must choose between her magical truth or his scientific beliefs. Can she step from the shadows to claim her true powers before it’s too late?




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