Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hiding from adventure

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Today's guest blogger claims to hide from adventure - but we know better...
DANA CAMERON: I had not planned on climbing up the side of a granite outcropping over the very cold and very deep water of the Kennebec River.  Four of us had motored to a little island in mouth of the river to identify archaeological sites when the engine developed problems.  A storm suddenly was blowing up, and we didn't want to be stranded when it hit.  Our friend rowed us, one at a time in the very small boat, over to the nearest spit of the mainland, but the dock was up.  We had to climb twenty feet to the top of the cliff, trying to avoid slipping on the rubbery seaweed. 

My husband and I reached the top, breathing hard and hands scratched, as our friend rowed back.  We were twenty minutes from home by boat—but two hours by car.  We sat waiting to be picked up, and my husband looked at me. 
“This is so going into a book, isn't it?”
I shrugged—well, yeah.  We only meant to be out on the river for an hour on a nice day.  This was too good not to use.  I don't go looking for adventure.

With regards to adventure, I'm strictly with Bilbo Baggins-at-home.  A load of strange dwarves talking dragons and gold shows up on your doorstep, on the recommendation of an unreliable, scrape-acquaintance wizard?  I would have exactly the same response:  Hell no, thank you very much.  And please put down my good china.
I prefer my danger in books.  On graph paper with polyhedral dice.  Or in the cinema, with James Bond or Jason Bourne or Lara Croft.  I go a long way to avoid adventures in real life.  I plan, schedule, make back-up plans. 

And yet... 
“Here, drink this,” said the cultured gentleman I'd known for exactly four hours.  He handed me a plastic container of water from a holy spring from under a church in the Golden Horn in Istanbul.  The site had been considered a holy place by many religions for millennia.  “It's tested every year, clean and safe.”

Scenes from every fairy tale I'd ever read flashed through my brain.  When is it ever a good idea to drink from unknown mystical sources?  We'd arranged the tours envisioning a good walk and sightseeing.  All terribly genteel, with tea and cookies.
Our guide was a friend of a friend, highly recommended and very knowledgeable.  Quite apart from my caution in drinking water abroad, it would have been extremely rude to refuse him, and in front of one of the church's priests. 

I drank.  We spent the rest of the day exploring churches, museums, and the famous underground Basilica Cistern—all as planned.  It isn't really an risky venture, if you have the assurance of experts.  It was a guided tour, after all.  But I had a little Buffy Summers swagger in my walk the rest of the day, that bottle of holy water in my pocket.  In my mind, I was having an adventure. 

Writers have a habit of spinning something harmless and a little unexpected into...swashbuckling.  Most of my writing friends haven't experienced all the things they write about: murders, vampires, post-apocalyptic scenarios.  They are nice, quiet folks.  The difference is, they have the urge to take even the idea of a close-call, add a little imagination, maybe some paranoia, and transform it into an escapade.  We're not looking for adventure, but just idea of it inspires our work.

The thing is, adventure's going to find you, as soon as you step out the front door.  Something commonplace but unexpected happens and boom!  We go running for the keyboard. 
Or maybe most of us really would run off after the dwarves like Bilbo, given half the chance.  Would you?

Whether writing noir, historical fiction, urban fantasy, thriller, or traditional mystery, Dana Cameron draws from her expertise in archaeology.  Her fiction (including several Fangborn stories) has won multiple Agatha, Anthony  and Macavity Awards and earned an Edgar Award nomination.    Dana blogs with the Femmes Fatales www.femmesfatales.typepad.com , and you can learn more at www.danacameron.com, Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads. 

About SEVEN KINDS OF HELL:The first of three novels set in the Fangborn 'verse, SEVEN KINDS OF HELL, is published by 47North. Zoe Miller's an archaeologist on the run from her father's family. They're reputed to be no good, and her own tendency to violence—and the occasional glimpse of fangs in the mirror—has her worried about her sanity.  But when her cousin is kidnapped, Zoe has to come to grips with her powers:  She's a werewolf and Fangborn, part of a family of supernatural creatures dedicated to protecting humanity.  Zoe must use all of her archaeological talents and supernatural abilities against her enemies—human and Fangborn—who seek an artifact of world-ending power.
ROSEMARY: Thanks for visiting, Dana! and don't forget JRs, one lucky commenter will win a signed copy of Dana's latest Fangborn novel Seven Kinds of Hell!



  1. What amazing stories from someone who says, “I go a long way to avoid adventure.” I think it’s probably a good thing for all of us who can’t get through a day without reading a book that all those adventures somehow make their way into your stories and inspire your writing. Thanks for sharing the adventure . . . .

  2. When my husband keeps adding adventure vacations to his bucket list, I say "you can tell me all about it, I have a lot of adventures in my head."

    Dana, tell us about the new book!

  3. I read to enjoy adventures vicariously since there is no way I am doing anything that risks my life in reality.

    And Zoe (with Dana's help) certainly takes us on an adventure in this book. I can only image where the future is going to take her (them).

    Thanks for stopping by Dana!

    (Rosemary, leave me out of the drawing for the book, I have already had the pleasure of reading it - someone else deserves that chance).

  4. Climbing a granite outcropping? I get queasy just thinking about it. I am in awe, Dana.

    I'm with Lucy on "adventure travel," though the scariest of all for me would be getting on one of those mega cruise ships. Legionnaires disease, anyone? How about a helping of Norovirus??

    I'll go where the toilets flush, than you very much.

    I WILL, however, be visiting the Fangborn universe. Seems a pretty safe bet.

  5. YOU DRANK IT??? Oh, gosh, I'm not sure I would have. I'm still thinking about that.

    ANd so funny--I thnk of you as the MOST adventurous person--yes, you plan. But you plan AMAZING stuff.

    Me? Oh I'm fine with adventure. Listen, I once stayed at a hotel that did NOT have room service. So there.

    And I have a wonderful tote bag that's printed with: "I'm SO happy I'm not camping!"

  6. Joan, these are really the exceptions to my rule, things that happen in spite of the planning, and, luckily, very minor adventures, too!

    Thanks for stopping by, Kristopher!

    Hallie, it was either climb up or be stuck without shelter in the middle of the river in the storm.

    As for adventure tours...not for me. I avoid zip-lines and camping and swimming with sharks. Living off the land for me means scavenging the mini-bar. It's just if you go out the door...

  7. Lucy, the new book, SEVEN KINDS OF HELL is set in my Fangborn 'verse, where vampires, werewolves, and oracles are secret superheroes who work to protect humanity. Zoe Miller is a young archaeologist who doesn't realize she's a werewolf and Fangborn; she learns an artifact in her possession leads to a source of world-ending power. I had a lot of fun writing it--and a lot was inspired by my travels!

  8. Hallie: those cruise ships are odd places, aren't they? I've had fun on the one or two cruises I've been on, but then you see the extreme case...it gives one pause.

    Hank, I did hesitate drinking the water. When James encouraged me to go ahead, I did--then handed the bottle to him! But we knew the guide was *very* savvy, else I would have just taken the water with me. My taste for camping is non-existent: I want a good bed, no mosquitoes, and a nice little cafe down the street. :)

  9. I've been waiting for this book since I read The Night Things Changed!

    I'm not the adventurous type. Like Kristpher, I enjoy having vicarious adventures with a good book. That being said, I seem to have committed myself to zip-lining over the Grand Falls gorge this summer.

  10. Wow, Dana! You're the Indiana Jones of New England. My idea of adventure is going out Friday night without a restaurant reservation.

  11. Darlene,

    I have to say, I have gone zip-lining and white water rafting (both at the New River Gorge), and I was ok with those. Zip-lining felt very safe and our guide on the white water assured me he would save me if I fell out. Thankfully, that was never tested.

    As for the "camping" part of the trip, I required that we have a cabin with a hot tub, which also happened to come with heated towel racks. I did not complain!

  12. Darlene, thank you so much! I hope you enjoy SKoH as much as "The Night Things Changed!" And...zip-lining over Grand Falls gorge...whoa! You're braver than I am, that's for sure!

    Grapeshot/Odette, dining without a reservation is just how these things start! You can't get into the place you want, everyone is hungry, suddenly, you decide to go into this exotic looking joint = adventure happens!

  13. This all sounds like great fun. (Perhaps that should be in quotation marks, "fun".) An occasional adventure (once proven not life threatening) can add spice to life. But, if I have the choice, I'll take reading about it in a book!

  14. Hank, I love your sense of humor!

    And Dana, I'm so excited about the first Fangborn novel! Yay! Can't wait!

    I am not an adventure person. All these people skydiving and risking their lives in other ways for a rush! No, thank you. I've found that life will force adventures on me--I don't have to go artificially seeking them. I'm with Dana there.

  15. Kristopher, you're braver than I am, and I like your taste in camping! Libby, I'm with you, for the most part! Linda, thank you! I'm very excited about the book. And I've never understood sky-diving or adrenaline-fueled events, either. Regular life provides enough thrills.

  16. Hmmm. . . I'm trying to remember if I've ever done anything adventurous. At one time I thought skydiving would be fun--until I went off the rope swing at Blue Hole and found heights terrified me.

    Of course there was also the time we lost an engine (in a twin-engine helicopter) over the Trinity River bottoms coming off of Parkland's helipad and had to declare an inflight emergency and land at Love Field. Not truly an adventure, though, as we still had a remaining engine chugging away just fine.

    Guess I haven't had much of an adventurous life, unless you count twenty years as a flight nurse as adventurous. I agree with the majority of the posts--the best adventures are found in books. Looking forward to reading yours, Dana.

  17. Diane, are you kidding? Losing an engine and making an emergency landing isn't an adventure??? Whoa, woman, you're tough!

  18. Diane, wowsers--it totally counts to lose a helicopter engine--LOL! It's the stuff that happens in spite of preparation, routine of a job, etc. When I was working in the field, 98% of the time, I was digging very square holes in the ground with a tiny trowel. Taking notes. Keeping an eye out for poison ivy. Dull, routine--but wonderful. It's just the times like the ones I mentioned (or the dump truck rolling off the road onto a site, or pothunters with guns, etc), that make my archaeological experiences look exciting.

    But flight nurse? No comparison! You had the excitement built right in!

  19. Amazing adventures - thank you for sharing with us.

  20. I used to go rock climbing along the harbor near my house when I was a kid. My friend Timmy and I snuck out during Hurricane Donna. We were blown off a rock near Devereaux Beach in Marblehead, Massachusetts, fortunately away from the beach, and not across the causeway to the harbor. Word got back to certain parents. That stopped our adventurous ways for... yeah, no it didn't.

  21. Thanks ladies, for the vote of "adventurous". I do agree flight nursing is exciting--it's the same adrenaline rush medics, firefighters, and law enforcement folks love. And Roberta, I'd gone through single-engine landings in the helicopter before, but those were precautionary. It was only after several hours of work by our mechanics that we found out the engine stopped because of an O ring failure. In essence, it quit because it wasn't getting any fuel.

    Hmmm, thinking back, maybe it was a bit adventurous--as soon as we were on the ground my medic and I were out checking to see if we had an engine fire that wasn't showing on instruments. No fire, long down-time waiting for repairs so we could go home, hoping it was a busy news day so our families wouldn't see "Emergency landing by CareFlite helicopter today" on TV. Ended up being much more boring than it sounds.

    But sometimes, boring is gooooood!

  22. Diane, you are probably the most adventurous person I know!

    Dana, it's always great to see you! And you had me at the Buffy reference. Your Fangborn books are just my cup of tea.

    From boring Debs, in London:-)

  23. Funny and quirky adventures! Congratulations on your new book, Dana. I've had a few adventures overseas in my day, but never got to drink special blessed water.

    Interesting timing, all this talk of camping phobias:

    I've been blogging, as well as posting on Facebook(and getting in touch with women I was in BROWNIES with), about my many, many years in Girl Scouts, and how I wrote a Girl Scout working on her Locavore badge into my Local Foods mysteries. On my blog people are chiming in on how much they loved camping, as did I, and what Girl Scouts meant to them (http://www.edithmaxwell.com/2013/03/the-value-of-brown-and-green.html).

    Different strokes!

  24. Annette, thanks for stopping by! Reine, wow, you lucked out! I bet your parents weren't thrilled, LOL. Diane, I agree: boring can be fabulous! Deb, so jealous--have a wonderful time in London (and thanks)! Edith--very cool!

  25. Thanks again for having me, Reds! Always a pleasure! xoxo