How Mountains Shape My Stories

Because I’ve always lived in the shadow of mountains, mountains always shadow my writing. This is especially true in Light Bringer. The story begins when a baby is found on the doorstep of a remote cabin in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains, and continues years later when the foundling, now an adult, returns to the high country to find out who she is. The mountains in my novel are both protective and secretive — the hills protect those who live in their shadow, yet the mountains also harbor terrible and awesome secrets that threaten those same people.

Whenever I needed a hiding place for the secrets of the ages in Light Bringer, I searched maps for isolated mountain ranges, and ended up with a library beneath the Ahaggar Mountains in Algeria, ancient artifacts beneath the Beishanmai Mountains in the Gobi Desert, and experimental spacecraft beneath the McDonnell Ranges in Australia. I’d heard about  the mountains in Australia where the experiments were being done, and in my research I’d come across hints of what lay beneath the Ahaggar Mountains, but the Gobi location was strictly a guess, though later I discovered that in fact, caves deep inside the Beishanmai Mountains were repositories for ancient treasures.

Maybe the mountains themselves were helping with the book.

Excerpt from Light Bringer (Incidentally, though not all the treasures mentioned might have been found beneath the Ahaggar mountains, they do exist):

Of all the extraordinary things Teodora had seen since starting work on her current assignment, the library, deep within the Ahaggar Mountains in Algeria, had been the most stunning. She did not know who had created the library or how it had come into IISA’s possession, but she had the privilege of being one of the few people to have seen the place.

The passageways, dug thousands of years ago, were painted with pictures of cities that had crumbled to dust before history was born. Those tunnels led to a series of vast modernized rooms—climate-controlled, dust-free, computerized.

One room contained row upon row of glass cases, which protected manuscripts and scrolls too fragile to handle. Another room contained an untold number of clay tablets, some written in languages that had yet to be identified. A third room contained crystals and optical discs that held digitalized information, and other discs that gave off holographic images when spun. Though seemingly futuristic, they were relics of an incredibly remote past.

The final room contained bound books, most of which were less than two thousand years old. Tens of thousands of these books were alchemical texts that detailed such things as perpetual lamps, the manipulation of matter to produce force fields, and simple ways of creating sustainable energy. A few also talked about how certain churches in France were linked together to create a message, which pre-dated Christianity. These churches were built on ancient power points that had been mapped by astronomers and geomancers who wanted to warn future generations of the heavenly body that would come to destroy earth.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

2 Responses to “How Mountains Shape My Stories”

  1. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    Living on the south coast of NSW, Australia I am living in the shadow of a small mountain range. Here, however, we tend to look to the sea rather than the mountains.

    Right now there are bush fires raging in the Blue Mountains. Homes have already been lost in beauty spots such as Springwood.

    I suppose if I were to write about the mountains I would include something about the brave men and women of our volunteer fire fighting service. Like the lifesavers on our beaches, they are our no frills, no fuss heroes. I’d also write something about the mongrels who start fires and endanger lives and property.

    Famous artists have made their homes in the Blue Mountains so I suppose there is something spiritual about the general locale.

    Norman Lindsay’s home is open to visitors. I’ve been there. His statues and art in general are of a fantastic nature. Brilliant nudes touching upon his own version of mythology. He’s probably best known for his children’s story The Magic Pudding (1917). He caused a controversy with his painting The Crucified Venus. He was also known for the propaganda posters he did during the First World War.

  2. knightofswords Says:

    Mountains have had a strong influence on my life and I like seeing them in your work. Mountains to me are the places one goes for wider vision both of the physical Earth and of spiritual truths. They offer us many symbols and make for stirring adventure stories.


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