The air is turning cold and the only light is a sliver of moonlight filtering through the towering pines. A small stream flows past like a whisper while off in the distance the crack of a branch snapping makes me jump. Inside the flaps of the dark green tarp strung between two trees, I lay on the hard ground huddled inside my sleeping bag. On the side of the mountain, I’m alone. Well, not technically all alone, there are others tucked inside their own makeshift shelters scattered throughout the wooded mountainside. But here near the swiftly moving stream, I’m by myself. It’s the perfect mood setting for a paranormal writer.
But, I wasn’t there as a writer. No, I came to the mountain that particular night to participate in an overnight mock search and rescue exercise. As a member of a K9 search and rescue team called out by the Sheriff’s Department where I live, we periodically converge to run through search scenarios and keep our skills sharp. This was a particularly interesting exercise for it was held on Halloween weekend. As I was running a half-marathon earlier in the day, I got to the mountain after the teams had been deployed. Rather than act as a searcher in this one, I had a different job. I was one of the “lost” persons the teams had to find. Except this time, in this exercise, those lost were a little more than lost…we were preternatural as well. There was one Skeleton, one demon, and me…a werewolf!
The search exercise was a rousing success and not only did we learn a great deal, but we had fun too. Though it was deep darkness on the side of that mountain by the time the searchers located me, when their lights hit my face, their reactions were priceless. The searchers, you see, weren’t in on the unique nature of the lost that night.
I came to the exercise that night loving the idea of being a lost werewolf but also pleased to be able to utilize the skills I’ve spent so much time learning and refining. The search and rescue community is a wonderful group to be associated with and the support of law enforcement in our area, incredible. This night though, it gave me even more. Think about it: a paranormal writer alone on the side of a mountain dressed like a werewolf? Oh yeah, I’m talking imagination nirvana!
The next morning as we packed out many were cold and tired, not having slept well in their shelters. It was cold and a light snow had begun to fall. It didn’t dampen my mood, I was grinning. My shelter had been great, I’d remembered to charge my radio, and my GPS had worked perfectly. Best of all, my muse shared the little shelter with me that night and when I hiked out, my head was filled stories of things that go bump in the night. I could hardly wait to get home to my computer.
Every writer is asked one question again and again – “Where do you get your ideas from?” For me on that Halloween weekend they came from inside a green tarp on the side of a mountain.