Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Behind the Scenes Nil Scoop

Happy Tribal Tuesday!

On today's NIL UNLOCKED website, I'm talking about The Top Ten Places You Don't Want to Wake Up On Nil.

Um, that's pretty much everywhere, right?:)

As you'll see from that post, there are lots of pictures, all taken in Hawaii when I went on a trip with him. Hawaii is where the inspiration for NIL and the Nil world struck. You can read all about where I got the idea for Nil in my guest post on John Scalzi's The Big Idea last year.

But I also did a fun post for Jenna's Does Books last year, for her Bookapalooza. I thought I'd share it here too, because it explains the story behind first scrub brush picture in today's Top Ten Places You Don't Want to Wake Up On Nil post.

Here you go!:)

--posted originally on Jenna Does Books book blog--

Today I thought I’d give some behind-the-scene scoop about NIL. A slightly embarrassing and funny and totally true impromptu adventure that crept into Charley’s story.

I’ve talked before about how NIL was born on the island of Hawaii.  The big island, specifically. My husband had won a trip with his company, and as we flew in, we could see the full breadth of the island from the air. It was gorgeous: lush and green in parts, on fire in others, barren in stretches, all with a coastline dotted with cliffs and sandy beaches.  And I’ve talked before about leaving the airport after landing, and driving through miles of ancient lava fields and being awed by the broken red rock stretching endlessly on each side. There were no roads, no buildings, no people–just the sound of wind blowing over the barren rocks. I remember thinking how scary it would be to wake up in that lava field by yourself, not having a clue where you were or how you how got there, and what if–because isn’t this every person’s worst nightmare?!–what if you woke up naked? NIL was born in that moment.  Every experience I had over the next week added fuel to my NIL fire . . . like what happened the next afternoon.

The next day started strong, with my husband surfing, me watching him and chilling out on the shore…and taking heaps of notes for the book (NIL) exploding in my head. After surfing, we tooled around the coastline in a rented Jeep. Being the total tourists that we were, we had a guidebook:

Best guidebook EVER. For real.

This book was AWESOME. Packed with glorious pictures and insider tidbits, we thought we had ALL THE ISLAND SEKRITS. (If only…:D lol)

As we drove north along the Queen K highway, I read a blurb about Kiholo Bay and as promised, the view from the highway was GORGEOUS. Black sand beaches, clear water. Unbelievably cool. And when I spotted mile marker 81, I screamed, “Stop!” Because according to the handy guidebook, there was a trail just south of mile marker 81. A trail that--and I quote--“from the highway to Kiholo Bay takes 15-20 minutes.” Supposedly when the trail turned into a gravel road, it would curve to the left and we’d pop out at the Bay.

Easy peasy, right?


My sweet husband pulled over, and we found what appeared to be the start of not one but TWO trail heads about ten feet apart. And by “trailhead” I mean an unmarked gap in the scrub brush. We stood there staring, wondering which was THE trail, when an elderly couple in Bermuda shorts and sun hats joined us.

“Which one is the trail?” the fellow asked curiously, as if we had a clue.

Waving my handy guidebook, I replied, “No idea.”

The women nodded. Smiling, she pulled her sunhat tight.

“Let’s go this way dear,” she said, pulling her husband’s gnarled hand. To this day I wonder what she saw that we didn’t.

They disappeared into the scrub brush to the left. Meanwhile, a twenty-something dude with a North Face t-shirt and sling pack appeared beside us.

“Hey.” He smiled, and without hesitation, headed into the brush on the right.

I looked at my husband (who happens to have a kick-butt sense of direction unlike me) and he nodded. “Right,” he said.

(In hindsight, very wrong.)

We went right.

An hour later, we were trekking through a back lava flow that was totally hot and unforgiving.

This rock. Gorgeous. AND HARD. And really, really hot.

Occasionally the rocks slipped, not often, but enough that we had to step carefully. Plus, there were small cracks and deep crevasses that hid in plain sight, black on black, and so not only did we have to watch our step, we often had to go wayyyyyyy around a crack, stretching out the short twenty-minute hike *laughs hysterically* into an hour in no time. Meanwhile, we were sweating like pigs and were SO THIRSTY because the few water bottles we had didn’t last long. Soon the twenty-minute hike had turned into a two-hour ordeal, with us alternatively laughing and groaning and wondering where-the-heck we went wrong. And did I mention that I was wearing Reef flips flops (my standard uniform) and a bathing suit and cover up?  Yup, totally NOT dressed for this impromptu hike.

Here’s proof:

See? Reef flip flops. WHAT??!

But eventually…as twilight fell, we made it to the Bay--and it was SO worth it.

This photo inspired Black Bay in NIL. :)

The sand was as black as coal, the water as clear as glass. And the funniest part? The elderly couple sat on the rocks, sharing a picnic and clearly hadn’t broken a sweat. By the looks of their food, they’d been there awhile.

“How long did it take ya’ll to get down here?” I asked.

The man rubbed his silver goatee. “About twenty minutes,” he said. “Give or take a few.”

As we groaned, he pointed to a gravel road. “There’s the trail end right there. Easy walk up,” he added.

“We took the long way,” I said.

“And he took longer,” the woman said, her eyes twinkling as she pointed.  Off in the distance north of us, there was the twenty-something North Face dude, still fighting his way through the black rocks and scrub, a good fifteen minutes behind us.

It turns out that the route we took sent us into into the Mauna Loa Flow of 1859. Totally unplanned, ridiculously out of the way, and yet it turned into one of the best experiences of the trip. Parts of our adventure shaped Charley’s Day One, and I’m SO glad we pulled over--and that we took a wrong turn. Sometimes the wrong turns are the best.:)

Proof of post-hike happiness:

"We made it! And the sweet couple gave us water! Yay! WE SURVIVED!" lol 

And just for fun, here's a picture of my husband surfing in Hawaii that day so you can see just how gorgeous the island is:

Big waves. Gorgeous water. Spiky red rock.
Yup. Looks like Nil.;)

SOOO gorgeous, right?:) Perfect inspiration for the world of NIL & NIL UNLOCKED!

So . . . are you ready to jump back into the world of Nil?!

If so, go check out the NIL UNLOCKED website!:)


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