Thank you for hosting me here on your blog, it’s a pleasure to be here. I thought I’d talk about how writing is a pursuit that will lead you on interesting journeys.
I started Earthbound with nothing more than the image in my mind of a man jumping from a boulder to the ground in dazzling morning sunlight, a green leafy canopy behind him. I had named the project “Something About Demons.”
But, as I wrote, I discovered that my main character had a special ability to heal, a spark in her hands for it, and an affinity for birds. That led me to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I had seen articles over the years about sick or injured raptors in the area, red-tailed hawks and eagles, being taken to Cornell for care. In my ignorance, I thought they were being taken to the Ornithology department.
My husband and I took a trip up there to look around and it was a lovely day trip. They had people in the lobby explaining about how to identify different types of birds by their markings and calls. There were displays of art work and information about birds and their habitats, plus a huge wall of glass looking out over a swamp where you could watch for birds and other wildlife. There are even several walking trails through the Sapsucker Woods, of varying length, and difficulty. It’s a beautiful place, but not where they take raptors for rehabilitation.
(Ithaca is a fun place in general. I absolutely adore the annual used book sale from the Tompkins County Public Library, and the Purity Ice Cream store, just a few blocks over. The restaurant in the book, where Ally and Matt eat the first night, is patterned after The Boatyard, a favorite place of mine to eat right on the water at the bottom of Lake Cayuga in Ithaca.)
As I looked into it, however, I learned that wild animals, including raptors, are actually taken to the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital, which is on the Cornell campus, just farther south. It’s devoted to “comprehensive veterinary care for native wild animals.” I looked them up online and found a wealth of information on their web site about what types of animals they’ve treated and for what ailments, along with great pictures. I honestly had not considered that they would be treating snakes, but they do that there too.
I found out that raptors can suffer from severe lead toxicity and anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning, from the all the small rodents they eat. That certainly make me realize we should rethink how we handle rodent problems in the house and around the farm.
I never would have thought I’d be learning about raptors and their health when I started out to write “Something About Demons.”
In reality, it’s a relatively small part of the book, but this gives you an idea of the background research that often goes into a fiction book. The majority of the book is a fast-paced action adventure about angels and demons that intertwines with scenes bringing you into the relationships and interactions of the characters.
I hope some of the readers here will give it a chance and let me know how they liked it!
Thank you for hosting me on your blog.
When I looked around again, Matt was halfway across the room to us with a stride of fixed determination, despite the dancers he moved through. Oh Shit, this cannot be good. Where’s Shelly? I looked around; however, I didn’t see her.
A moment later, he stood next to Rick. I suddenly felt electrified. How does just being in the same room with him do more for me than all evening with Rick? I met his eyes then looked away. His gaze accused me somehow. But I haven’t done anything wrong.
“Matt,” Rick greeted him politely, though clearly less than happy to have someone joining us.
“Rick. Do you mind if I steal Ally for a dance?”
Before Rick could respond or I could protest, Matt took me by the arm and guided me to the dance floor. He lifted the drink from my hand, set it on a table as we passed, then pulled me into his arms. I stumbled at the swift pace, but he held me close, steadying me.
“What the heck?” I hissed at him. “How about asking me, rather than my date? And where’s your date?”
“Powdering her nose.” He whirled me around the dance floor, edging closer and closer to the French doors leading onto the balcony. His breath warmed my ear, and I shivered involuntarily as he said, “You may be scared, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you hide behind him just because he feels safe.”
I sputtered while he smoothly took my hand and drew me outside. I tried to yank my hand away, but he held me fast. I glared at him. “Scared of what?”
“Scared of the truth.”
He leaned back against the stones of the building and tugged me further out of sight of the doorway. I tripped over a divot in the cement and fell against him, our lips now inches apart.
Time slowed, and I could hear his heartbeat as clearly as my own as they came into sync. Our lips met, as if magnetized. My eyes slid shut; golden sparks darted across the night sky behind my eyelids. I heard the piercing shriek of an eagle. He tasted like peppermint. When he finally released me, I inhaled sharply. The spicy scent of his aftershave filled my senses. My eyes opened and I stared into his, the golden flecks dancing like light on the blue green ocean.
“That was not fair,” I gasped out.
“All’s fair in love and war,” he said lightly, then cleared his throat and leaned back to meet my eyes. “Surrender?”
What would that make me, his prisoner? I shivered at various associations that brought with it.
Her healing touch could start a fire.
Ally Reynolds is a veterinarian specializing in raptor rehabilitation in New Hampshire. Other than one horrific incident in her childhood and a little extra “spark” for healing in her hands, both of which she has kept secret from even her best friend, her life has been singularly boring. It has also been extremely lonely. Ally longs for someone to share her life with, but how can she trust anyone with her secret?
Matthew Blake, an ornithologist at Cornell University, calls Ally, asking for her help with an injured raptor. Matthew grew up in New Zealand and has lived around the world. He has read about Ally’s high success rates in raptor rehabilitation and suspects there is more to it than is generally known.
Matthew has some secrets of his own; he is a demon hunter. He suspects Ally’s healing powers could benefit him. He wants her to join him and thinks they’d make a great team.
Can Ally trust him or is he just using her? Matthew definitely has more secrets, and some of them are about Ally.
Melora Johnson is a poet and novelist living in Upstate New York with her husband, daughter, a black cat, and quite a few chickens. Her most recent published work includes A Sanctuary Built of Words: Poems of Peace, Grief, and Passion, and publication in The Sexuality Poems from Foothills Publishing. She also runs a large and thriving writer’s group for adults. Of course, into every life a little rain must fall as well as the occasional tornado, but you’ll find that amply covered in her writing. Find out more about Melora and her writing –