Ann Gimpel on Backcountry Magic

Author Ann Gimple on her personal experiences with backcountry magic and why she uses the backcountry as the setting for novels like Destiny’s Shadow.

People sometimes ask me why I use the backcountry as a setting for some of my paranormal stories. It’s easy enough to answer. I’ve spent thousands of days with a pack on my back. No, that’s not an exaggeration. I’ve climbed all over the world, though never any of the eight thousand meter peaks in the Himalaya.

I’ve had more than a few, um, unusual experiences far from other people, and often far from any sort of maintained trail. One common event is hearing someone behind me. Of course when I turn around, there’s no one there. Sometimes, if I listen carefully, whoever’s not there actually talks with me. It’s how I’ve come up with some of my more interesting story ideas.

Another thing that happens far from civilization is sort of a sixth sense. I have something—who knows, maybe it’s a guardian angel—that keeps me safe. It tells me if a snow slope is unstable or a route unsafe. I’ve learned to listen to it. Backcountry survival is a blend of luck and skill. One or the other by itself often isn’t enough.

In the modern world, it’s a treat to get away from electronics and instant availability, sort of a retreat to our roots as more primitive people. What better place to find romance? He’s not texting. He’s putting up the tent. She’s not yammering with her girlfriends, she’s mixing up freeze-dried glop for dinner. You have to rely on each other and pay attention to one another, too. I’ve seen more than one couple who couldn’t get along in the backcountry. Their relationships never lasted long in the front country, either. You learn to work together as a team and to appreciate one another’s strengths. If you can’t do that, you don’t go on many more trips together.

At least in my life, out of the way places have been a crucible to strengthen my marriage. We’ve returned from many an adventure more strongly bonded as a couple than before. And when you get right down to it, romance is looking at your partner with love shining from your eyes. Sure they have faults. We all do. But you turn a blind eye to them. It’s a glass half full phenomenon. We pick what we want to see.

There’s a reason so many people read romance. It’s a metaphor for what we want in our lives. We all want our HEA with the one person who makes us feel loved and special. Want to find out if your relationship will go the distance? Go backpacking together. Travel to a third world country. Face adversity greater than, “Aw crap, we’re out of milk.” If you can work together rather than blaming one another for why something isn’t working, I’d say you picked a winner.

Any stories you’d like to share? When did you know your current love was Mr. or Ms. Right? What tipped you off?

About Destiny’s Shadow

A ranger for the U.S. Park Service, strong, competent Moira Shaughnessy is in serious trouble. Fleeing from her cheating husband, a Native American shaman, she stumbles into the arms of a man she never thought she’d see again. He hurt her once by choosing his druid heritage over her. Can she take a chance on him now?

Pursuing very different motives, both men follow her deep into the backcountry. Moira is caught in the crossfire between Celtic magic and Native American shamanism. A freak blizzard compounds her problems, taxing her survival skills to the max. Against the specter of almost-certain death, the sweetest, purest love she’s ever known rises to the fore, engulfing her in unbelievable passion.

Genre: Paranormal Romance


About the Author

Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent.  Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing.  A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Two novels, Psyche’s Prophecy, and its sequel, Psyche’s Search, have been published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing, a small press. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.

Read an interview with Ann here.

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