When I was eight, already a voracious reader, I borrowed a book from the local library about the California Redwood Tree. Reading it filled me with a visceral sense of BIG. I came back time and time again to read this book because I loved the idea of something so ancient and so huge existing in my own, real world.
The sense of BIG is something difficult to explain. It fills my brain with itself; the sense of something magnified to such a degree that it changes in the way it looks.
“Walking the Tree”, which is now the next novel to be published by Angry Robot, has this idea of BIG at its heart. The idea, story and character came to me fully formed while watching a documentary about ancient artefacts. The Tree, which almost fills a large island and forms the mythology, history and law of the novel, is inspired by my early fascination with the Redwood.
When in San Francisco last week, I discovered that the forest was a mere 45 minute drive away and I knew we all had to go.
Muir Woods is a well-developed venue, with wooden walkways (not made of oldgrowth Redwood, as my husband joked!) to keep you off the path. Walking them reminded me of Ray Bradbury’s “The Sound of Thunder”, and the importance not to change anything.
The trees were breath-taking. So tall you had to tilt your head back as far as it would go. Their trunks are red, soft, straight. Some of them have been burnt, but they grow on regardless. Some have caves inside (as does the Tree in my novel) and we all imagined how it would be to live there.
I have a great sense of fulfillment, having seen these trees I’ve loved since I was eight.