Research Road Trip: Ozark National Forest, AR

The first three books of my grimdark, paranormal fantasy series, The Slaughter Chronicles, are set in rural Arkansas. But not just any part of rural Arkansas…THE FORESTS. So, State Parks and National Forests are of great inspiration to me.

One of the most brilliant things I ever did with one of my writer friends (Kathy!) back in 2019 was go into the building where one of her protagonist’s worked. It was so cool looking at what kind of carpet was on the floor, how the buttons were arranged in the elevator, what kind of marble statues they had in the lobby, etc.

Putting eyes on your actual setting is one of the most important pieces of writing advice I can give. But being out in nature, in general, is so restorative for the creative spirit. Even if you hate nature, get out in it. Let bugs bite you and write about how much you hate it. It’s inspiring.

I had several inspiring things happen to me this trip.

This might not be a big deal to you, dear reader, but a few weekends ago I got to ride in a side-by-side.

I had no idea what I was missing.

Seriously, utility terrain vehicles ARE. THE. BEST. Even if they can tip over. I have a new dream now. It’s name is Polaris RZR.

And the forest itself was gorgeous.

Naturally, this experience had to find its way into my book. I re-wrote the first three chapters of Havoc’s Moon based on this little adventure.

Addendum: I realize it’s not always possible to physically visit your project’s setting. Pandemic. Finances. Etc. etc. But if you can’t visit, you can RESEARCH 🙂

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