Does it say something about mankind’s duel nature that I spent my youth dreaming of (and writing about) exotic places, but in the end stayed in my home state of Indiana? Or maybe it says something about me. It could be for the best: Would I have time to write as a space pirate?
Indiana was named some 10,000 years ago by migratory Native Americans, using a Potawatomi word meaning “Confused Europeans think they’ve discovered India”.
In the 1670’s it was claimed by France, much to the surprise of the Indians. A hundred years later the French were equally surprised by the British, who were surprised by the Americans, who were surprised the Indians were still here.
In 1816, the new state government initiated a massive infrastructure program that, twenty-five years later, left it nearly bankrupt and gave Paleo-Indians the last laugh. Thank goodness governments don’t overspend these days, huh?
But that was the past, and I live in the present, except for when I write about the future. They’re connected: Our topography was formed in the Ice Age, when glaciers advanced south until they were stopped by a wave of hot air from the state capitol. That left southern Indiana rugged; northern Indiana with glacier-gouged lakes; and central Indiana with vast, green fields and Indianapolis.
Up north you can’t throw a wet Speedo without hitting a lake. If you want big water you can go to the Dunes State Park along Lake Michigan, or the true-to-its-name Clifty Falls State Park along the Ohio River. You can hit the Amish country to the north, or the state forests to the south, or the culture and history of Indy, or Fort Wayne. A few miles from my home is the also appropriately named Chain O’ Lakes State Park, where I can swim or canoe badly, or camp and hike well. (After all, how hard is it to sleep or walk?)
For writer’s inspiration, a handful of miles in the other direction is the former home of one of Indiana’s most famous writers, now the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic site on the shores of Sylvan Lake.
For all that, one of my favorite views is three blocks from my house, where the Romanesque century old Noble County Courthouse towers over Albion.
It’s little wonder that, despite my early written tales of outer space adventure, post-apocalyptical battles and firefighting heroics, my first fiction sale didn’t happen until I came home.
With Storm Chaser I went to romantic comedy, for an adventure set in northeast Indiana, and it’s no coincidence that key scenes were set in my favorite wandering place, Chain O’ Lakes. The short story collection I published next was a prequel, with most tales again set in the Hoosier state. Now I’m working on a Storm Chaser sequel, a young adult mystery, and a non-fiction history book – all set in Indiana.
Why? Because you shouldn’t just write what you know: You should write what you love. (Unless you’re writing about something really evil.) It wasn’t until my Storm Chaser character, Allie, entered the state for the first time that I got a chance to see it through the eyes of someone who hadn’t been there before, and that made me love it all the more.
Not that I don’t still have some serious sci-fi in me.
Mark enjoys reading, writing (of course), and outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing. He loves history, science fiction, and making really, really bad puns.
Connect to Mark and all his work, including purchase information here: www.markhunter.com