After all, we've got enough stuff to entertain ourselves. Homer, Poe, Austen, Twain/Clemens, Tolkien, Lewis, King, Meyer, Rowling, Stoker, Shelley, Stevenson, Paolini, Verne...seriously, let me take a moment and just ask y'all to give a hand to all these entertainers of the page. Seriously, guys. You're all great.
All right, back to what I was saying. Why should I want to even try writing a book when there's a lot out there to read? I mean, there's tons I could entertain myself with, lots of stories and epics and tales that I have spent hours with. Really, why bother? I mean, come on, we've got Harry Potter to entertain us, or Percy Jackson and his buddies (I've actually never read it...). I ask again, why bother with my stories? Been there, done that? Really?
No, not really.
I realized when I was younger, when my stories were first taking shape, that it didn't seem as if my part of the world had its own little epic. Central Europe, or Scandinavia, or Britain tend to get their fair share of the settings available for the type of fiction. And yeah, they're beautiful, Britain especially. But, after 24 years of being here, I'm in love with the East Coast of the United States, the Southern portion especially. (When I was quite young, my concept of the country consisted of North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, and Michigan and Iowa somewhere up in the great beyond of the North.) Where I live, we don't have bayous; we have marshes that turn into sounds and then become the Atlantic. There's just something rough and lovely and old about where I live. Go west, and you'll venture into the Blue Ridge and Great Smokey Mountains, a place that always feels slightly haunted by the spirits of the Cherokee that once wandered there so long ago, some of whom remain to this day, living in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
North Carolina is a different sort of place to live, and I've always known this. That same beautiful rawness that I've seen my whole life is the thing that inspires me, literally. At one time, I was going to set my books in West Virginia, but I've only been there once, for my senior trip. (Snowshoe Mountain is a gorgeous place to ski, by the way.) What a mistake that would have been. West Virginia is a beautiful place, and I know some cool people from there, but there's nothing in the world quite like hearing someone speak and knowing within the first three words they say that they probably have the same area code as you do.
Okay, so back to why bother. I bother because I think it's only fair that we get our own chance, we here on the East coast. I think it's because we have marshes. You know those old marsh lights? I think some have called them will 'o the wisp...those little lights that lead people deep into the marsh...those are stories my friend, just waiting to happen. I'll follow one, all right. Oh, but I promise...good stories always lead you back out to where you wanted to go in the first place.
But they rarely leave you the same.