Fog on the mountain

Ann Hite, author of Ghost on Black Mountain, is with us this weekend.   Here’s a photo she sent that inspired her.  Maybe it will get you going as well.  For me, the fog looks like it would cover you and your trail up and you’d never find a way out.   Can you picture something mysterious and shadowy walking out from the trees?  I get chilled just looking at it.

Ann, I want to know how you used this picture for inspiration.

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16 comments on “Fog on the mountain

  1. ann says:

    The trigger was the fact that I fought writing in a southern voice. This was the last thing I wanted to do. Nellie Pritchard came to me in full form and just as southern as one character could be. I had so much fun writing from her point of view and allowing her to speak. If not for Nellie, I might never have embraced my writing voice.

  2. ann says:

    Characters came first in this book but setting (Black Mountain) is a character too. Nellie actually showed up first and began telling me her story. I would be washing dishes or cooking supper and lines would shoot through my head. The first two lines of the book came to me in this way. But Black Mountain has a personality. It hovers in the back of the story. In my new novel–in edits now–I have a ghost as a character. She is part of the mountain. 😉 Fun stuff.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the workshop. I’m back teaching again this year. Thanks for the great questions.

  3. debutauthors says:

    Hi Ann, I meant to tell you earlier that fog does look like someone or something creepy could just slip out. It would make the hairs on my arms stand up.

    What was the trigger that got the book concept going? And how long did you ponder it before starting the actual writing?

  4. I went camping all alone with my husband in a place that looked a lot like that picture. During the night we heard a lot of clomping and snorting and were too afraid to get up even on one elbow to peek out a tent flap. In the morning there were elk tracks every side.

  5. ann says:

    I came into the business when I was thirty-three. I had been a writer my whole life but never thought of seriously writing for publication. I earned my way to publication with Simon & Schuster. I could paper my writing room with rejections. I took classes and workshops. Then I finally understood I had to write, just write. I found an agent through a local conference. It’s a tough business to get into.

    It’s my love of writing that kept me pushing my book.

  6. ann says:

    All the characters seemed to grow on their own organically. If I got off track, or went a way they didn’t want, I knew. The whole story stopped. There are parts of people I know in the characters but mostly they just became who they are through writing.


  7. says:

    I’m always interested in how new authors got into the business — inspiration, finding agent, etc.

  8. Billye Johnson says:

    Thanks, Ann. That must be exciting to have your characters lead you unerringly to the right story. Did you develop your characters via a biography or narrative before you started writing or did they evolve on their own? Did the location become almost a character in itself?

  9. ann says:

    Thanks Jill! So far so good.

  10. ann says:

    Billye: Nellie appeared in my head one evening after a trip to the North Carolina mountains. I was cooking supper and my husband was reading aloud from a book about the area. The story was about a woman who was hung for murder. Nellie showed up with what would be the first two lines of the book. “Mama warned me against marrying Hobbs Pritchard. She saw my future in her tea leaves: death.”

    My characters pretty much run the show through the first and second drafts of the book. Then I go back and do research. It’s amazing how I get much of the background correct. This is the magic of writing.

  11. Anna Serra i Vidal says:

    Hi Ann, I’ll always remember you for the Characters workshop on the Muse Online last year’s conference and the wonderful novels you made me discover (especially The Guernesey Literary and Potato Peel Society).

    Wonderful picture you choose for inspiration!
    Did you come up with setting first or was the character that took you there? How do you convey the setting, you let the image inspire you, you try with other senses others than sight?

  12. Jill Dempsey says:

    the photo is beautifully bleak and inviting…so little time and too many books, I hope this goes well for you

  13. There is something mystical about being in or near the mountains. What inspired you first to write this story? I love the photographs and the images they conjure up. What are the steps you cover when you are beginning a story? Characters, locations, what would happen if…?

  14. ann says:

    It sounds scary!

  15. debutauthors says:

    I haven’t been hiking there, but I have been in a white out while skiing. It’s when a low-hanging cloud slides over the mountain. Earth and ski are white and you can’t tell up from down. The only way I got down the ski run was to sit down and drag my hands, telling myself the entire way down, ‘You know you’re sitting upright and snow is under you.’ So scary and, oh so, cold. When I got down to the warming hut, grown men were inside crying and rubbing every digit they had. This picture reminds me of that horrible day.

  16. ann says:

    Hi! I’m so excited to be here this weekend. This photo was taking by me on Clingsman Dome, one of the highest points in the Smokey Mountains. I was walking through the cloud and thought about how scary it would be to have someone appear on the edge of the woods. At the time I was working on Ghost. This photo helped put me in the mood to write the ghost scenes in the book. Also, Nellie talks about the fog rolling in around the house while she is alone.

    I wonder if one ran into a ghost in fog and woods would they know the difference? Would they assume it was just another person? Creepy huh? I’m sure there are others with spooky experiences out there.

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