Why I Wrote a Novel About a Tree That Sings: Part One
Hey everyone, I’ve published a short novel called Song of the Tree Hollow. It’s a literary mystery about a young woman who discovers she has a magical touch with plants — and unfortunately, a dark family history. It was fun to write, and one of my warmer, quirkier stories. I thought I’d offer this post on the origins of it. The book is available on Kindle for 99 cents, free on Kindle Unlimited. Please check it out! Thanks.
Even though I grew up in a big Midwestern city, I’ve always been drawn to evergreen trees. When I was little and we traveled to northern Wisconsin to visit relatives, we’d drive through coniferous forests and as soon as the landscape changed from open prairie to enclosed greenery, I felt different, moodier and dreamy. It was as if I’d come home, disappearing into a natural wood that was grand and dark and dared you to enter. The trees were powerful and inspiring. I even found them more reassuring than people. They were my friends, albeit silent ones that lived far away from where I lived.
It’s no wonder that a decade or so later, I landed in the Pacific Northwest. Here, trees grow as tall as buildings and as wide as cars. Thanks to all of the rain and mild temperatures, conifers, mainly cedars, firs, and hemlocks, thrive and the result is spectacular. It’s why they call Seattle “The Emerald City” (even though we logged all of the trees over a century ago). But Seattleites still value trees and many homes feature a towering old tree, especially in the northern suburbs where I live. Regardless, it’s soothing to know you can drive to the mountains in a half-hour and lose yourself in a sea of green at any time of year, even in winter.
A Ravine of Mystery
It’s even more soothing for me because I can look out my back window and see a ravine of cedars and firs. The ravine, a slope of land that leads down to a creek, is part of our property. Occasionally, I wander through to check what smaller trees may have fallen in the last windstorm or how badly the ivy has spread.
A Hollow of Imagining
One day, I imagined what would happen if one of my large cedars had a hollow, how fun that would be for my kids. Hollows are dark and scary and mysterious. A dangerous animal might live there, a creepy goo might be on the inside walls, spider webs might slap you in the face, your hand might sink into mud. All aspects of the imagination light up.
Science Fiction Leads to Speculation
Meanwhile, last year my husband and I had watched the film, Arrival. Arrival is a speculative story about what would happen if aliens actually came to earth. We would most likely send our military to try and communicate with them, drawing on linguists and other experts in the private sector to help. Amy Adams plays such a linguist who learns to communicate with the aliens. The creatures look like a cross between upright squids and tree trunks with vertical roots. When they make noise, they rumble like a bomb. The sound vibrates through the viewer’s stomach. It was fantastic.
How Plants Speak
I knew that scientists had confirmed that some plants create acoustic vibrations in their cell walls and I imagined that that’s what enormous trees might sound like if they could speak. A low massive vibration, not too far removed from the aliens in Arrival. Then I wondered what if someone was born, through maybe a genetic mutation, who could feel and hear those vibrations? Hence, my protagonist was born.
Still, I didn’t have a story. Until my cat Maddie died – and came back to life. I’ll write about that in Part Two of my series on my novel, Song of the Tree Hollow, in the next few days. In the meantime, you can order the book here.