Traveling your character's road

Snoqualmie pass March 21, 2013

Out in the Dark

Nothing brings your imagination to life like traveling the same road as your protagonist, especially if conditions are somewhat similar.

Jake, a 17-year old, on a frantic road trip in search of his father who has been missing for a year and who recently started sharing mental images of what he’s experiencing as a prisoner of an off-the-books organization who want him to use his exceptional remote viewing skills for their aims.

Because his father taught him the same skills, Jake can see and feel what his father’s going through and it’s enough to make him decide he has to find his father before it’s too late. He ditches school, packs some essentials, lies to his mother and sneaks out in the middle of the night in his father’s prized 1966 Pontiac GTO, and drives across the Cascade mountain range. Snoqualmie pass can throw all sorts of weather at you, no matter what the calendar says, as you can see from the above picture.

This weekend I felt Jake’s fear, his desire to get across the pass and his urgency to reach his destination as I carefully drove up the snowy pass on I-90, retracing my character’s drive. Jake’s story now felt very real. Luckily I was spared the pain Jake felt. And unlike Jake, I avoided picking up a hitchhiking college-bound girl (the love interest in this paranormal Young Adult novel).

Below an excerpt from “Out in the Dark”. To read the whole book, please respectfully tap your favorite publisher and gently direct them to this page.

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... A painful image flashed across his mind. He could see his dad doubled over and could almost feel the kick he’d gotten to the gut. He willed himself to see more details, to see who was doing this to his father. It was hard to concentrate on the image and keep the car on the road, but he managed to get a glimpse of the other man.
    With a shock Jake slammed on the brakes. That wasn’t right, that was not how the military ran those psi experiments. Who were these people?
    Cold sweat poured down Jake’s back as he gripped the steering wheel and tried to control his breathing. He felt as if he had been punched in the gut like his dad. He was no longer even aware of the freeway, the car or the darkness, he only felt the pain his father felt and the betrayal, knowing that his father was being held against his will. Somehow, something had gone terribly wrong.
    Static crackled through a John Coltrane piece, sharply bringing Jake back to the present.
    “Oh, shit,” he said, realizing he had stopped in the middle of the freeway just on the other side of the rise. If a car came over the crest they would not be able to stop in time, and would probably swerve to avoid him, ending up in the trees.
    Still shaken Jake put his foot on the accelerator again. The car roared back into action and fishtailed for a moment with excess power. That’s what his dad would have called it. Nothing much fazed him. A combat veteran and an officer to boot, he could handle anything, of that Jake had always been sure, until tonight.
    Picking up speed to at least match the speed limit Jake continued his journey. He was too shaken to even think about going above the speed limit...