I love trees. My editor is a tree hugger. I have pictures of her hugging a willow in Regents’ Park, London. Trees house and support insects and wildlife. They keep soil from eroding and, depending on the tree, protect us from wind, rain, snow, and excess sunlight. Stephen Murphy used many trees to make his home. He now plants, prunes, and nurtures them.
I’m inspired by trees. The sounds the wind makes going through them is comforting. The creaks and groans they make are unique and eerie. At Ravens’ Rook, we named the trees we planted. Ruler is the red maple in the front yard, and Old Timer is the ginkgo in the back garden. I have adopted a massive oak that I can see from my office window. I call him Harry. Why? He looks like a Harry. He is the tallest of the mighty trees east of my house. He has so much personality. Am I nuts to find more there than bark and leaves? Only a fellow tree lover could tell you for sure.
It’s sad when a tree dies. It starts to top off, and the woodpeckers go nuts extracting bugs that have moved into the weakened tree. Still, in its death, it has provided. Oh, noble tree, how you have provided for me.
Many people blame the trees for downed power lines in storms, crushing homes, pollen, and dropping their leaves all over the place – a behavior I’ve noticed in myself at times. If we are to live amongst these giants, we also must be good neighbors. After all, we put the power lines, homes, or have planted trees there in the first place. As far as acts of nature, let’s just give them a pass. The last thing a tree would want to do is blow over. I think they are proud of their height, strength, and foliage. I doubt there is a suicidal one in the bunch.
Deep in the forest there is a tree
Beautiful and fragrant it attracts many bees.
Still young it has to live through many snows
Many springs and summers will come and go.
I will be there forever to protect this tree
This is the promise I give to thee.
I have used twisted oaks in two of my books (Never Forget and The Long Game). They are fictional sinister trees that were made evil by man. Mia likens herself to a stone fruit tree in Risen. This is a tree grafted into bearing up to forty different kinds of fruit. (Photo credit: Sam Van Aken / TED x Manhattan). It’s a beautiful tree but, according to Murphy, an aberration. Something to think about, Team Murphy.
Yes, in many of my books I have used trees. From the horror of tying the dead of a slaughtered tribe in Darker than Dark to them, to the whimsey of Murphy’s stolen Japanese maple in Book of Souls, I depend upon trees as much as the characters to tell you a story. And let’s be real, without trees, Murphy and his axe wouldn’t be the same.