I’m one of those authors who, every now and again, need to have a muse or two up my sleeve. Some writers confess to that perfect beauty, in the form of a person, an object or experiences as the key that unlocks the treasure chest of their words. Whatever it is that ignites my creativity, refueling inspiration is as vital to my writing as water to my body.
I was born with traveling feet, and just as well that they start itching every so many years, because my family leads a nomadic life. Following my husband around the globe for his career has become an invaluable asset to my own. There’s nothing that motivates new stories and their backdrops in my mind like exploring unknown, magical, volatile and mysterious territories. It is therefor only natural that my romance novels Between Fire & Ice and The Winemaker both have their roots in a narrow ribbon of land running along 4270km of South American Pacific Ocean – Chile.
When we arrived in Santiago de Chile in 2009, we set out to explore this country of volcanoes, desserts, glaciers, lakes, rain forests, 7000m-high mountains and mystical islands. The two extremities that first caught my attention were Patagonia in the south and the Atacama Desert in the north. My curiosity piqued, not only because of these regions’ tourist attributes, but also because of my fascination with opposites, I made quick work of touring Chile from the top of its scorching desert head to the tip of its frosty Patagonian toes.
While ancient glaciers in the south lace the coast with mint-blue mountains of ice, in the north an endless stretch of rock and sand carpets the driest desert in the world – Atacama. The only things these two territories have in common are being secluded, almost inaccessible and poorly populated. It was love at first site. I lost part of my soul to the simultaneously gentle and volatile nature of these areas’ unrivalled virgin beauty.
Snow-capped volcanoes rise from the desert, their tranquil smoky halo’s dangerously deceiving. The silver buttoned domes of observatories dot the landscape, a reminder of the clearest, least light and weather polluted night sky in the world. Red sandstone canyons carve its way through the Atacama soil. The maze of roofless tunnels, animal skeletons on its sand bed telling tales of lost battles for survival, is not called the Valley of Death for nothing. But then, its path thrusts upon you the sudden surprise of natural rock pools, heated by the underground roots of the distant volcano. When I stood on top of the highest dune in the Valley of the Moon, admiring the metal gray color of the strange planet-like craters, and the pink dust of the dying sun on the rosy cliffs, I realized that this was the perfect setting for a fantasy romance.
The road from Atacama took me 4000km south into the last South American outback where only a few cowboys and sheepherders rule. No roads or airports connect man to nature here, and the only way of venturing to the index fingered portion of land, pointing to Antarctica, is by boat. This is a landscape so eerie and cold, so magnificently colored in golden lakeshores, emerald green water and turquoise skies, that it ignited in me feelings of both fantasy and fright.
Not only did I use these two settings as the birthplace and home of my male and female protagonists in Between Fire & Ice, but I also attributed the geographical characteristics to the personalities of the main characters. For example, Cy (meaning sun) is from the Atacama Desert. He is dark and fiery, a restless warrior on whose shoulders the responsibility of saving his family and his kingdom rests. Elena (meaning moon) was artificially inseminated and raised in secret in a Patagonian cloister. She is pale, with clear blue eyes and silver-white hair. She possesses a secret gift of healing, and is Cy’s opposite in every way. In the setting of the book human females are becoming infertile. When Cy’s cold-hearted scientist mother created Elena, she ensured that the girl would conceive Cy’s child, in order for her own selfish dreams to prevail. Thrown together by necessity rather than choice, Cy and Elena discover that the answer to happiness lies in the balance between their opposites. And so, I pay tribute to the contrasting Chilean lands that inspired the yin and yang of my imagination, leading to the creation of Between Fire & Ice.
From the Atacama Desert and Patagonia the story takes the reader on a journey through the magical Elqui Valley that is claimed to host the earth’s magnetic center, the towering Andes mountains dusted with everlasting snow, and mysterious Easter Island guarded by its gigantic moai. And when my attention turned back to Santiago and its surrounding vineyards, producing some of the world’s finest wines, The Winemaker was born, but that’s a story for another time.
About Guest Author Charmaine Pauls
South African born Charmaine Pauls followed a career in all the facets of her communications degree, including public relations, journalism, advertising, and brand marketing. Her debut novel, Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, was released in August 2011. She currently resides in Chile with her husband and two children.
Visit Charmaine online at www.charmainepauls.com
Find Charmaine’s books at Melange Books – https://melange-books.com/authors/charmainepauls/index.html
Between Fire & Ice, About the Book:
Cy is heir to the powerful empire of his parents, a mining enterprise in Chile, South America. Their future power depends on his ability to produce an heir himself, a daunting prospect, as the human race is becoming infertile. But Cy’s mother – a brilliant, cold-hearted scientist – left nothing to chance, when she, in the year of her son’s tenth birthday, headed a project to artificially inseminate a fertile woman. At thirty years of age, Cy is instructed to marry Elena, who his parents surrogated and adopted for one purpose only – to have his baby.
Elena was hidden in a secluded cloister in the ice-lands of Patagonia, where the nuns, renowned for their mysterious magical practices, taught her the art of meditation and healing. A cruel education ensured that Elena submitted to her destiny, namely to give Cy a child. But soon Cy will learn that there is more to his bride than shy submissiveness. Under her gentle beauty hides a powerful woman who can give Cy the peace he is yearning for. She holds the key to his heart, and for once, he may just begin to believe in the destiny that had been preached to him all his life.
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