My story begins the same way everyone else’s does: Once upon a time

 

I was born in the urban forest of Los Angeles County, where the freeways twist in elaborate labyrinths. As often as possible, we spent our weekends in the San Bernardino Mountains where my siblings and I climbed over boulders, ran up and down hills, and reclined on our backs so we could look at the pattern of pine tree branches against the blue sky.

It was there that I developed a deep love for the wild woods. And there that I decided I wanted to be a writer.

Inspired by my experiences in nature, I spent hours in my teen years filling up spiral-bound notebooks with stories that stretched into novels – all written longhand. I got my first computer at the age of 19 and immediately used it exclusively to write my very first full-length novel – a book that (many, many drafts later) became The Poison Box.

In 2018, as my passion for nature grew even stronger, I began an exciting indie project - The Briarlore Series. These books contain original fairy and folk tales for adults, complete with illustrations, all set in the woods. I wanted to remind adult readers what it’s like to fall in love with a magical story, just like we did when we picked up picture books as children.

I also released The Reluctant Owlet, a children’s picture book based on the family of Great Horned Owls I observed in the summer of 2017. All the artwork was created using the original photographs I took. 

Today, I live in Oregon, right where the desert meets the forest, that magical in-between land. It is dry and dusty, stark and beautiful, filled with junipers, volcanic rocks, and hundreds of stories crisscrossing and overlapping one another. I try, as always, to capture them all, or at least to sit and listen as they whisper past me.   

All photos copyright 2015 Yancy Lael & Chance Martin