Hopatcong Vision Quest, my latest novel, is set at Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey's largest lake and the place where I spent the summers of my youth. (The old picture is me with my grandfather, searching for fishing worms.)
So, how does writing about the place where I grew up, help me as a writer?
First of all, it allows me to write about what I know. This does not mean my plot has to be driven by events I have experienced. Hopatcong Vision Quest starts with two murders and I have no background in that area. (Thank you, God.) But I know lakes, so when I write - The wind was soft and the water quiet, except for small waves lapping along the narrow shoreline in front of the trees. - I can see, hear, smell, and feel the setting. And when Maya, a ten year old character in my story, sets out to locate a muskrat den, I can remember similar experiences as a young boy and combine my memories with a little research to produce a complete scene – The water was high, but Maya could see marks on the rocks at the water's edge indicating it had once been higher. That morning the muskrats were using an underwater entrance to go in and out of their home, but the book had said they needed at least one entrance above the waterline. The entrance Lucas had shown her was high enough, as long as there wasn't a flood.
There is, however, another benefit to writing a novel set where I grew up. I know a bit about its modern history, which allows me to write accurate statements such as - The New Jersey soil and abundant water from the lake provided a perfect place to plant - and - “The boathouse set back in that cove and the other two along the shore have existed for as long as I can remember. Change happens at a slower pace here than the rest of the world, but things do change.”
My history with the lake and the people who live by it, has given me a great love for the area, which touches on a subject raised by Suzy Henderson in another quest blog on this site. My love for the setting helps when my novel turns from the present to the past. In Hopatcong Vision Quest a hypnotist helps my characters recall memories of a past life they shared in a Lenape Native American village that existed in the same location where the lake is today. I enjoyed the research necessary to produce a believable, accurate picture of life back then. As a child, I was excited by the fact that Native Americans had once lived where we lived. As a writer, I had a reason to look back and satisfy my curiosity. For me, the research was almost as much fun as the writing.
Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can't Go Home Again about a writer who writes too closely about his home town and the people in it, who aren't pleased when their flaws are exposed. With Hopatcong Vision Quest, I've written about fictional people in a real setting. The details of the past and the present are as real as I can make them. The emotions are also real, but not tied directly to specific people. So I say you can go home again, if you treat your home with respect and love.
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Pub. Date: October 6th, 2016
With the help of a hypnotist, Diane, Ryan, and Martha look into their hidden memories, hoping to use past life experiences to solve the murders of two people they loved. The trail to the justice they seek runs through a life they shared hundreds of years earlier, in a Native American village.
Oota Dabun, Diane's counterpart in her past life, always dreamed of having a vision quest, a rite normally reserved for the young men of her village. This Lenape woman reaches for her dream in an unusual and compassionate fashion which teaches Diane a great deal about the capacity of the soul they share.
Praise for Hopatcong Vision Quest
“An enticing, engaging novel I highly recommend” DM Denton
“...deftly plotted and extremely well written.” Matthew Peters
“A fascinating view of ancient tribal beliefs bleeding into the present day.” Sheila Englehart
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About the Author
His Theater Arts background has helped nurture a love for intricate characters in complex situations that is evident in his writing. Steve and his wife Toni live and work together outside of Greensboro, North Carolina. They have two adult children: Nicole and Erik. Hopatcong Vision Quest is Steve Lindahl's third novel, his first with Solstice Publishing.
You can learn more about Steve on his website and blog.