One thing we writers mostly strive for is authenticity. That's at the basis of the old cliche, "write what you know." If we know about something, we can describe it authentically. Of course that doesn't mean we can't write about things beyond our experience, or make up some of our own, but having some firsthand knowledge is definitely helpful.
I'm about ready to release a new book, Book 11 of my Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series. It's called Spirit Walk, and it takes place on the Navajo Reservation, Sam's home territory, and involves a slot canyon.
What the heck's a slot canyon?
If you're not familiar, it's a very narrow, twisty canyon carved through sandstone by ferocious flash flooding during the Southwest's monsoon season. Yes, we do have a monsoon in the Southwest. We actually have two summers, one dry (May, June) and one wet (July, August, September). During the monsoon months, we can easily get a thunderstorm that drops several inches of rain in minutes.
Now imagine all that water gushing down narrow canyons of grainy sandstone. It's sudden, violent, and dangerous.
Luckily, the result is beautiful and awe-inspiring.
Recently my husband and I visited one of these slot canyons near Kanab, Utah. It's called Peek-a-Boo Canyon, and it was wonderful. I thought I would share with you some pictures of our adventure, so when you read Spirit Walk, you will be able to "see" the places Sam and Lacey go.
Above, the narrow confines of Peek-a-Boo Canyon beckon at the same time that they challenge.
Left, the author's husband shows the scale of the canyon.
Below, the author hides behind swirls of sandstone.
Does it help to know the places you're describing in a book? I think so. Having experienced slot canyons, I can convey to the reader the colors, the tactile sensations, the awe and the power of the place.
Now it's up to you to read Spirit Walk and see if I got it right.