Writing and Ski Mountaineering
Thanks so much for inviting me back to your blog. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Many of my stories have a winter theme. Wonder if that's because I live in a place where it's winter better than half the year?
Don't get me wrong. I love winter. There's something pristine and delightful about endless vistas of white. And the crunch of skis on new snow has a sound all its own. There's nothing quite like coming into a warm house after hours outside in the cold, although my husband reminds me of all the winter nights we spent in a tent with a blizzard flapping the nylon and tells me I've gotten soft. Part of what he said is right. We did spend many a night with me sandwiched between him and one of our dogs. With a minus twenty down bag, I even managed to stay warm. But I prefer my camping in the summer. One of the biggest problems with winter trips is the days are short and it gets really cold the second the sun sinks below the horizon. So cold, you have to get into the tent and into your down bag. Or else, you need to keep moving. It's too cold to stand around outside cooking or chatting.
For a while we used a Bibler stove. You hung it inside the tent and the tent actually got warm enough to take your gloves off. Of course, you had to keep a door open so you didn't asphixiate. They don't make Bibler stoves anymore. Too many lawsuits, I guess. The other issue with winter ski mountaineering is you get lots of condensation inside the tent. When you touch the side of the tent, it showers you with ice crystals. Down is a wonderful insulator so long as it stays dry. The minute it gets wet, watch out. The sleeping bag manufacturers use a variety of "water resistant" nylons to try to keep the down dry, but it's a losing battle. Between the heat from your body traveling through the down from the inside of the bag to the outside and the dampness inside the tent trying to go the other way, no matter how well made a sleeping bag is, the down eventually gets damp--and heavy.
When my husband came back from trying to climb Mt. St. Elias, his down bag must’ve weighed twenty pounds. Hanging outside on a line in the hundred degree heat in the Sacramento Valley, it took over a week to get dry.
In the winter on skis, or in the summer on foot, some of my best story ideas come from long hours in the backcountry. I don't think it's accidental that my books and stories with a backcountry focus have sold well. The backcountry is a part of me. I understand how the Sierras fit together. How you can travel from pass to pass to get where you're going. Years ago, I had the same bone deep knowledge about the Cascades, but it's faded over a forty year span.
I still remember meeting Andrea Meade Lawrence on a ski lift here before I knew who she was. All I saw was a little, old lady who turned a goggled face to me, grinned, and told me the snow in Wipe Out was great. Wipe Out is a double black diamond run. I asked if I could ski it with her and she said, "Sure!" I still remember watching her disappear down a skinny little couloir between two boulders. Wow! That woman, who won double golds in the Olympics in the nineteen fifties, could still ski with the best of them.
Ann Gimpel is a USA Today bestselling author. 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. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. Once upon a time, she nurtured clients. Now she nurtures dark, gritty fantasy stories that push hard against reality. When she’s not writing, she’s in the backcountry getting down and dirty with her camera. She’s published over 45 books to date, with several more planned for 2017 and beyond. A husband, grown children, grandchildren, and wolf hybrids round out her family.
Find Ann and her books
Edge of Night
A Collection of Short Stories
Click here for information + buy links
Here’s a roadmap to Edge of Night. Welcome to an eclectic collection of nine short stories.
You’ve done time at the edge of night. Nail-biting, stomach-churning time filled with hissing snarls, menacing growls, the whoosh of unnatural wings, and the flash of hellfire. Time that lasts forever, but is over within seconds because time becomes unpredictable in places like that. You don’t want to stay, but it’s too fascinating—in a grisly, macabre, toe-curling kind of way—to turn your back on. You recognize it, though. The place just at the threshold of darkness where it’s not quite safe anymore. Evil broke its bounds at the edge of night, or maybe it always ran free and we’ve been deluding ourselves all along.
Join me for nine supernatural tales. Monsters, demons, gods—fallen and otherwise—ghosts, aliens. A touch of science fiction. More than a splash of romance. From magical lands to a chilling glance into the past, Edge of Night has something to tempt everyone. Everyone who craves danger, that is. It takes guts to read the stuff woven into nightmares.
It’s a tough job, but you’re up to it.
Welcome to my world. A world where magic holds court and the dude next door just might be a demon. Or a shifter. Or an alien.