Monday, January 21, 2013

The Otherworld in the Mortal World - Episode One


A local cave, one I believe might just lead to
the Otherworld . . .

Recently, I came up with the crazy idea that it might be fun to go around my hometown and document all of the locations which make an appearance in the Otherworld books. I personally believe there is a lot of magic in this world that often goes unseen or unnoticed. How do I know this? Because of how easily the simple things can inspire a whole new world in my mind. For this first installment, I asked my friend Niño to come along with me while I explored one of the many hidden treasures along the Central Coast.

I first learned about a trail just beyond the city limits of San Luis Obispo on our local news, and when the reporter showed her viewers the waterfall and cave that accompanied it, I knew it would make a great addition to my Otherworld books. Currently, I'm trying to balance the writing of Cade's second POV novella, my fourth Oescienne novel, and a book that delves into Robyn's life after Meghan leaves for the Otherworld. Since Robyn's story needs a little more world building than the other two, I wanted to do a little exploring and make sure certain details added up in the book. Although a lot of my stories contain elements that I've created separately from the real world, with the Otherworld series my aim was, and still is, to incorporate as much of the mortal world as I can.
Part of the trail we climbed down.
Now, I can't give away too much of the plot for this latest Otherworld work in progress (for one thing, not all of it has presented itself yet, and second, I don't want to give anything away). What I can tell you is that Robyn will encounter Otherworldly things (not saying what or who . . . ), and that she'll be spending much of her time in the city of San Luis Obispo.

And at the bottom of that trail . . .
A cave!

Of course, this meant I needed a portal to the Otherworld located a little further north than the one in Meghan's old neighborhood. So after our sword fighting class this Sunday, Niño and I drove out to the trail head and made our way to the cave and the waterfall just next to it. I don't know the exact history of this cave, whether it was carved for a pipeline or if it was used in some old mining expedition, but what I do know is that it would make the perfect portal to the Otherworld (there has to be a dolmarehn buried in there somewhere . . .). In fact, a man who'd hiked to this same location with his two young sons asked if we knew what the cave was for.  Naturally, I responded that it was for getting to the Otherworld.  He didn't seem too convinced by my theory.

Yes!  I'm only a few steps away from entering the Otherworld!  I only hope that I'm not greeted by Cumorrig on the other side . . . Perhaps I should test out my theory of being Faelorehn another day ;)
After getting a few good camera shots from a short distance, I took off my shoes and followed my friend across the creek and up the slippery rocks leading to the cave. I'm glad I did this because I would have gotten my shoes soaked for sure. In order to enter the cave, I had to bypass some streams of water and to my slight chagrin, I didn't quite dodge them and I ended up getting the back of my shirt wet (fortunately we were having one of our 'Summer in January' days here on the Central Coast and the weather was perfect for splashing around in a waterfall).
Um, did I just hear something back there?
Once I was inside the cave, I felt a little uneasy, especially when my back was turned to the inside of the cave. I could have been attacked by a faelah at any moment . . . Niño felt the same way, though he decided to remain safely on the outside and closer to the mortal world.

Niño, is there something behind me?!
I'm not certain how far back the cave went (I didn't venture any further than a few feet in. I didn't want to risk the chance that I might be Faelorehn and get sucked through to the Otherworld without being properly prepared). Maybe someday I'll return and test that theory ;). For now I'll have to leave it up to my imagination (and yours) as to where the cave leads. One thing I know for certain, however: this cave and the waterfall next to it is definitely one of those magical, everyday places certain to give the imagination a good workout.

- J.E. Johnson

Here is a short clip of me talking a little bit about our outing.  And when I say a little bit, I mean it.  I'm not a big fan of speaking on camera, and I often shy away from such things.  However, I've decided it's something I should probably work on, so here is my first attempt at speaking about my books directly to you.  Yes, tis not the best (and it got a little cut off at the beginning, sorry!), but hopefully I'll improve over time :)

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