A Walking Tour - Finding Inspiration for My Book


Location was one of the things I had to decide when I was writing  The Descendant. Would I base my novel in some made up location or would I base it in my own backyard?  I opted for the latter; after all, I live in a pretty cool town.

Allison Carmichael, the main character, lives in a town called Buzzard Hill, which is loosely based on my current hometown of Hinckley, OH.  More to come on Buzzard Hill in March around Buzzards Day!  One of the best assets to this area is the Cleveland Metroparks system – it is an extensive system of nature preserves that circles the Greater Cleveland area and is often referred to as the Emerald Necklace (more about that once the sequel is published).  The park system consists of miles of walking, bike & horse trails, picnic areas, golf courses, beaches and fishing spots.  The system is really beautiful and I couldn’t help but write it into my novel.


The excerpt below is from Chapter 7 of The Descendant.  I don’t want to give away too much if you haven’t read the book yet.☺ In this scene, Allison is fleeing (via her motorcycle) her home in Ridge Hollow (no, not the home in Buzzard Hill; you’ll have to read the book to find out why!) only to discover that she’s being followed.  In an attempt to escape her pursuer, she stops at Whipps Ledges and attempts to hide in the woods.

Whipps Ledges is the real name of one of the parks in the Metropark system.  I spent many a summer when I was younger on these ledges, hanging out with friends.  I stopped by the park this past November and took these pictures, which coordinate with the scenes from my book.  I hope that you enjoy the walking tour!

Excerpt from Chapter 7 of The Descendant (be forewarned, there are some spoilers):

Anger swelled in me again so I sped up. I saw a sign in the far distance that I easily read. It said ‘Whipps Ledges.’  In the summer months, Whipps Ledges was a favorite spot for many locals.  It was a forested park filled with caves and cliffs that attracted hikers, rock climbers, nature lovers and the occasional group of high school kids looking for a spot to smoke some pot.  But no one would be there at this time of night or at this time of year.  It would be much too dangerous to try to navigate the rocky terrain in the rain and dark.

I sped to the sign, down shifted and took a hard left into the parking lot.  I shifted my bike into neutral, pocketed my key and took off for the woods.

I again didn’t think about what I was doing.  It was pitch black and I was entering the woods, a place that frightened me enough during the daylight, let alone this time of night.  And a lunatic, who claimed that both he and I were vampires, was on my tail.  Leading him into the woods probably wasn’t the brightest idea.

I quickly ascended the wooden stairs built into the earth.  The staircase turned into a dirt path that I somehow climbed without much difficulty and without winding myself.  The path led to a tall wall of conglomerate rock carved by glaciers millions of years earlier.  The whole wooded park was full of rock ledges and outcroppings of the same stone, hence the park’s name. I  paused and pushed my hot body against the cool, moist wall.  It was a welcome relief against my searing flesh. I listened but couldn’t hear anyone behind me.  Maybe Vincent didn’t see me turn off the road.  Or maybe he was waiting for me in the parking lot.

I kept climbing up the path which eventually turned into smooth stone surrounded by crevices cut deep into the earth and rock formations protruding toward the sky.  I effortlessly leapt over a wide crevice, walked a few feet and found a clearing in the trees.  The moon shone brightly above, not quite full. The sky was dark with scattered rain clouds looming low.  Stars dotted the clear patches of sky.