Monday, March 19, 2012


I'd like to welcome Michelle Hauck. She graciously agreed to write a post about how her environment influences her writing. Please check out her blog Michelle4Laughs- It's in the Details 
for more about this amazing and talented woman.

Thank you, Michelle.

Angie asked me to write about how my culture or environment influences my writing.  I’d like to say my family could be plunked down on the set of Big Fat Greek Wedding and blend right in, but that would be stretching the truth a tad. Okay, more than a tad. At the movie wedding, we’d be the humdrum people across the aisle on the groom’s side, the pale colorless ones who don’t tan. My family is a combination of parts of Western Europe: one set of grandparents are Swiss, the others are a mix of German, Irish, and Scotch. We’re not exactly overflowing with stand out or unique traditions. A little bit nutty like most families, but we’re talking pretty much typical suburban American background here.

I do live in the paradise of extreme northern Indiana, pressed right under Lake Michigan. It ranks right up there with New York and LA for excitement. I won’t go into our glittering lights (fireflies) or tall buildings (Marriott building all of ten stories). Northern Indiana has an abundance of two things: seasons and cornfields. Here in Indiana, we go from three feet of snow with a wind chill of thirty below to heat indexes in the high nineties. That’s variety for you. We also have a little something the weather people like to talk about called lake effect. Lake effect is when the wind blows off Lake Michigan and dumps snow or rain on you when the next county over has clear skies. You’ve heard of Buffalo, N.Y. and their snow piles, we’re their less famous cousin. I really don’t like to dwell on winter by writing about it. Moving on.
Cornfields. What can you say about that? Indiana is classified as deciduous forest and that is definitely the type of plants and animals I use when writing. I’m keen on gardening so I like to use flowers to show progression of time.  Lilacs and bleeding hearts get replaced by roses and daylilies as spring moves to summer. Characters might enjoy a kiss under the white blossoms of a snowball bush or be pulling garlic mustard weeds from their vegetable gardens. Not that cornfields don’t make fascinating reading material.  Perhaps someday I can dedicate a whole book to them.  Look for it on Amazon.

When local environments and your culture fail you, the dedicated writer looks elsewhere.

The description of my invented castle came from actual castles like Leeds which I toured in England. The volcanic landscape and brilliant turquoise waters where my main character searches for a cure are actually from Yellowstone. Wind rippling the tall grass in waves up a South Dakota Hill and seen from a car window can be the setting to display my hero. From my former neighborhood in Tennessee, a pine forest where the red ground is strewn with dead needles. My grandparents’ small Indiana farm (now a modern housing area) became a magical oasis in a dystopian destroyed civilization.  

 It’s not so much who you are or where you live, but what you’ve seen and experienced. Anything can become fodder for a story. Talent lies in incorporating your whole life into the details of what you write.   


  1. Wonderful post! Research is definitely great for creating new worlds, but sometimes, we can find inspiring worlds in our own backyards. :)

  2. Awesome post! And there's nothing better than fresh corn on the cob, dripping with butter.

  3. Thank you again, Michelle. I really appreciate you sharing your inspiration. You create wonderful worlds and characters that are dynamic and fully actualized. Totally awesome!

  4. Thanks, everyone. You make my head swell with your nice comments.

  5. Sounds like you've experienced quite the variety of places, Michelle. I'm going to think of Yellowstone now when I think about Kindar! =)


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