I asked Val if there were places where he got inspiration. His answer is below the blurb:
Thursday, November 9, 2017
The Man With the Crystal Ankh / The Girl Who Flew Away by Val Muller - Virtual Tour and Giveaway
by Val Muller
I asked Val if there were places where he got inspiration. His answer is below the blurb:
GENRE: YA paranormal / YA literary
Everyone’s heard the legend of the hollow oak—the four-hundred year curse of Sarah Willoughby and Preston Grymes. Few realize how true it is.
Sarah Durante awakens to find herself haunted by the spirit of her high school’s late custodian. After the death of his granddaughter, Custodian Carlton Gray is not at peace. He suspects a sanguisuga is involved—an ancient force that prolongs its own life by consuming the spirits of others. Now, the sanguisuga needs another life to feed its rotten existence, and Carlton wants to spare others from the suffering his granddaughter endured. That’s where Sarah comes in. Carlton helps her understand that she comes from a lineage of ancestors with the ability to communicate with the dead. As Sarah hones her skill through music, she discovers that the bloodlines of Hollow Oak run deep. The sanguisuga is someone close, and only she has the power to stop it.
No good deed goes unpunished when freshman Steffie Brenner offers to give her awkward new neighbor a ride home after her first day at school. When her older sister Ali stops at a local park to apply for a job, Steffie and Madison slip out of the car to explore the park—and Madison vanishes.
Already in trouble for a speeding ticket, Ali insists that Steffie say nothing about Madison’s disappearance. Even when Madison’s mother comes looking for her. Even when the police question them.
Some secrets are hard to hide, though—especially with Madison’s life on the line. As she struggles between coming clean or going along with her manipulative sister’s plan, Steffie begins to question if she or anyone else is really who she thought they were. After all, the Steffie she used to know would never lie about being the last person to see Madison alive—nor would she abandon a friend in the woods: alone, cold, injured, or even worse.
But when Steffie learns an even deeper secret about her own past, a missing person seems like the least of her worries.
Here are five places Val Muller might visit for inspiration for his books?
For this post, I was asked where are five places I might visit for inspiration for my books. I’m going to take this literally and choose places that are logistically possible at this time—with a toddler in tow. If budget, time, and travel were infinite, I might choose places further away—like New Zealand, China, and parts of Europe.
Putnam Memorial State Park
The Man with the Crystal Ankh takes place in New England, drawing on the history of the early colonists. The protagonist, Sarah Durante, discovers that many of the residents of the fictional town of Hollow Oak have ties to the original settlers there—with a supernatural twist.
Growing up in Connecticut, I frequented Putnam Park with my parents, but my main memories are of the foliage while hiking and picnicking. Since I left the area, the park was decommissioned, fixed up, and then reopened as a state park. I would return there to view the remains of soldiers’ chimneys as well as some of the replica buildings that were constructed to commemorate those involved in the Revolutionary War. There’s a different feeling when visiting a place that has such a long history of civilization. When I was out west touring Native American sites, I was told that many tribes’ traditional beliefs involve abandoning possessions, as they tend to hold on to elements of the deceased. With all the remnants at Putnam Park and the surrounding areas, I would find inspiration for the last two books in the series.
While I was visiting New England, I’d probably travel a few more hours north and see Salem. I’m always haunted whenever I read The Crucible with my students. There were such charged emotions in the 1690s, and this would relate directly to the troubled history in my novel.
Shenandoah National Park
On an opposite note, I find such comfort in nature. Nature constantly renews, and the process of life and death seems natural when out in the woods. In my young adult work The Girl Who Flew Away, Steffie is dealing with so many major family issues that when she escapes into nature to rescue a missing friend, she finds comfort even as she is tested. Much of Shenandoah National Park is a little much to hike with a toddler-in-backpack, but I hope to explore parts of it soon.
Now, whenever I need inspiration, I frequent local parks with easy-to-hike trails. No matter how stressed I am or how “stuck” I am in working on a new writing idea, I always come back from a hike (even a short one) refreshed, with several ideas simmering on the backburner.
One of my works-in-progress (it’s written and needs to be revised before shopping it around) takes place in a semi-apocalyptic future. The land has dried out so that everything resembles the dryness of the Wild West. It’s dusty, it’s nearly lawless, and civilization seems far away. A trip to Tombstone would help me add those details that make a story feel real. From a historic courthouse to restored or recreated graveyard, corrals, and gallows, Tombstone would be a like a trip back in time.
When I first spent time in Arizona, it was in Sedona. It was beautiful and breathtaking, but something felt “off” to me. I commented that I didn’t feel the normal “restoration” I felt while out hiking back home (on the East Coast). I attributed it to jet lag, perhaps, but a woman who overheard me told me otherwise. She had lived on the East Coast and said it took her years to get used to the absence of the smell of greenery: that was what I missed.
In my upcoming work, the residents have the chance to travel to a world that’s basically a rainforest compared to their barren dustbowl, and being forced to miss the atmosphere of greenery would help me capture their pain—and explain the sacrifices they would make to find their paradise.
Green-Wood National Historic Landmark
I have never been there, but the beauty evident on the website (www.green-wood.com) reminds me of a place I did visit, Longwood Gardens. But because many of my works have a darker twist, I would look forward to the presence of statuary and mausoleums. There’s something I enjoy about the blending of nature and history. It seems humans leave their footprint, allowing their essence to linger, a theme directly relevant to my Hollow Oak series.
Located near where I grew up, this park has one feature important to The Man with the Crystal Ankh. On the grounds of the park, which includes a Tudor Revival mansion (The Gallaher Mansion) as well as gardens and trails, is an expansive weeping beech tree (You can find pictures at http://www.adventuresinconnecticut.com/2013/07/cranbury-park-in-norwalk.html). This tree always inspired a sense of mystery in me as a kid, and I can’t help but think of it every time I write about the hollow oak that is central to the novel’s story. I haven’t been to the park in years (since I moved away), but a trip back would certainly be inspirational.
Excerpt from The Man with the Crystal Ankh:
She picked up the instrument and set it onto her shoulder. A calmness passed into her, as if the violin exuded energy—as if it had a soul. The varnish had faded and dulled. Its life force did not come from its appearance. She brought the bow to the strings, which was still rosined and ready to play. Dragging the bow across the four strings, she found the instrument perfectly in tune.
Sarah took a deep breath and imagined the song, the way the notes melted into each other in nostalgic slides, the way her spirit seemed to pour from her soul that day.
And then it was happening again.
She had started playing without realizing it. Warm, resonant notes poured from the instrument and spilled into the room. They were stronger, and much more powerful, than those she was used to. This instrument was different than the factory-made one her parents had bought for her. Rosemary’s violin was singing to the world from its very soul. And it was happening just as before. Sarah’s energy flowed from her body, causing her to lose consciousness and gain perspective all at once. She rode the air on a lofty run of eighth notes. She echoed off the ceiling with a rich and resonant vibrato. She flew past the guests, who had all quieted to listen to her music; flew past the table of cold cuts and appetizers and up the darkened staircase, where she resonated against the walls and found her way into the guest room. There, she crept along a whole note and slid into the closet.
As the song repeated, she twirled around in the closet, spinning in a torrent of passionate notes. She searched through the notebooks and books on the floor and on the shelves, searched for an open notebook, for something she could read, something that might make her feel tied to the place. Otherwise, she might spin out of control and evaporate out the window and into the sky. She found her anchor on the floor in the darkest corner of the closet, a large parchment—maybe a poster. The notes spun around her in a dizzying way as she tried to stay still enough to read what was on the paper. It was a difficult task; now, with every beat her body downstairs tried to reclaim its energy.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Teacher, writer, and editor, Val Muller grew up in haunted New England but now lives in the warmer climes of Virginia, where she lives with her husband. She is owned by two rambunctious corgis and a toddler. The corgis have their own page and book series at www.CorgiCapers.com.
Val’s young adult works include The Scarred Letter, The Man with the Crystal Ankh, and The Girl Who Flew Away and feature her observations as a high school teacher as well as her own haunted New England past. She blogs weekly at www.ValMuller.com.
The Girl Who Flew Away:
Free preview + discount code http://barkingrainpress.org/girl-who-flew-away/
The Man with the Crystal Ankh:
Val Muller will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC and a download code for The Girl Who Flew Away, a download code for The Scarred Letter, a print copy (US only) of The Man with the Crystal Ankh, and an ebook of Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive, to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.