I woke up thinking about this problem because some aspect of it is going to be in the Tucson historical romance. Tucson, Arizona and the valley in which it sets is a place with a tremendous number of spiritual elements all coming together in what at one time was a flowing river and its surrounding riparian zone. It inspires the possibility of real spiritual power-- of positive and negative sorts.
Picture RocksTucson is a good place to find love but also violence. The events that have happened, keep happening, have created an atmosphere of conflict and resolution, beauty and danger. If you are sensitive, you will feel it in the air and come across the evidence that others have felt it with their petroglyphs, the shrines, the churches. It's a good place to be when wondering about spiritual traditions, mysteries, and the source of life.
San Xavier, the White Dove of the Desert
Friday morning I awoke thinking about all this in terms of the story, which I had laid aside to write the Christmas novella. The one thing I knew is that this story will have a spiritual element with a heroine who is curious about the psychic world, a Yaqui sidekick for the hero, the setting in Tucson, but how far did I want to take that?
I know a lot of the plot, the dilemmas the couple will face and feel I know these people but what about the part I don't know? How much of that shall I put into it? There will be some spiritual searching but how about the paranormal itself? I find it fascinating and have done a lot of research over the years, but how far do I want to go in this book?
While I’ve been in Tucson, I’ve gone to some of my favorite petroglyph sites, which show at the least an attempt to understand the Cosmos, possibly tell their stories, but were they placed where they are with a feeling these were sacred sites or are they all that is left? They do feel like sacred space which is to be respected in the same way a church does. Is there real energy of some sort and it's why they exist where they are? The site for San Xavier was a holy site to the Tohono O'odham before the Spanish priests came and erected a church there.
Shrine in downtown Tucson
There are many sacred sites around the United States and, of course, the world. Do they hold some kind of power as some believe of the Sedona vortexes? Or Stonehenge in England? Is there some kind of reality to the paranormal, that which we might experience but cannot explain? Could there be power from a physical source like say ions in the air which is why the energy is good around a waterfall?
For the book I am soon to start writing, my big question is not whether the questing will be there. It will be part of the underlying theme. The question is how real do I make it?
Once in awhile I have wrestled with that for a story as I am not traditionally religious and am more of an agnostic than an atheist. I don't write sci fi or fantasy where you can let fly with what you might imagine. Romances can have all of that, but mine have not. They have been grounded in the 'real' world as much as I know of it. It would be possible to put the spiritual elements in the story and have the characters recognize it as a false quest or equally it would be possible to have them touch the unknown, to come out of their experiences with a greater understanding of the unexplainable, the mystery of life. That's the quandary of a writer.
Humans really do want to believe there is magic and you see the evidence of it everywhere. Should this book be a place to find some of that magic or is it better to be 'realistic' about what is true... if we know what that is.