There were still a few more metres to go to reach the top of the Villaricca volcano in Pucon, Chile, but I was done. Four hours of climbing straight up over loose rock, snow and glacier ice had knackered my muscles; altitude and sulphurous air made it hard to breathe; and I was carrying a heavy backpack laden with crampons, ice picks and lunch.
I had nothing left to give.
But a thought crept into my mind: what would Samantha do?
She wouldn’t quit. Despite everything, my main character – gutsy, brave, fearless Samantha Kemi – would see this journey through to the end. So even if it went against every fibre of my being, I gritted my teeth and kept on walking, putting one foot in front of the other. At the top, I was rewarded with the most amazing sight on earth: red hot lava bubbling and boiling up from the centre of the mountain. It took my breath away to feel the sheer power of the earth beneath my feet, to see mother nature at her most tumultuous and terrifying.
And it also meant I had an even bigger reward: a scene that could be written *straight* into The Potion Diaries: book three.
Samantha had been there. And because of her, so had I.
Travelling has always been key to inspiring (and improving) my writing, adding authenticity to my stories. I’m not a strict believer in “writing what you know” because I know that imagination can be a powerful tool. But some experiences cannot be lived only by dreaming them.
The first novel I tried to get published was about an epic fantasy story of a young boy who is exiled into the desert. Unfortunately, like a lot of writers, I received lots of rejections from publishers and agents. The experience hurt so much, I stopped writing for a while – and instead planned a post-university gap year, visiting several countries in Africa, then on to Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia. That trip opened my eyes to the world, and I came back a changed person. Most importantly for my writing, during the trip I actually visited a desert, spending a night under the stars in Sossusvlei, Namibia, and so I came back inspired and re-wrote that first novel… which went on to become my first published book, The Oathbreaker’s Shadow.
The first book in Amy Alward’s The Potion Diaries series is currently a featured free read on Riveted, available until June 19! Start reading it today here!