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And that’s how I ended up abseiling 72 metres into Abismo de Anhumas, a cave in the heart of the Brazilian jungle just outside Bonito, home to incredible stalactites which lurk in the depths of the underground lake inside.Due to the lack of sunlight there is nothing living in the lake, but the sight of the stalactites beneath my snorkel sent my mind reeling about giant eels and monsters.If you can talk, you can write — even if you need to brush up on grammar and spelling.
For my first book, , I wanted to write about characters living in wagons in the woods – people who could ride horses bareback, track wild animals and read the ways of mystical tree spirits.
I knew the Romany gypsy culture was full of colour and magic so I went to meet the last ‘real’ Romany gypsy in England, Pete Ingram, to discover more.
I don’t have children of my own yet – but hopefully one day, I will.
And when I do, I want them to have a ‘wild’ childhood like mine.
My characters do all of these things in – they even make their own fishing rods from hazel and the fibres of stinging nettle stems, and their own lobster pots from washed up rope and twine, woven then bound around willow.
Add in the thirty feet cliff jumps I did out in Norway, and some kayaking through the fjords, and I was able to create a fully-realised sea adventure.I camped in the Altai mountains in minus 20°C (I awoke to find my water bottle frozen and wolf tracks in the snow around my tent), I rode out into the wilderness with a legendary eagle hunter called Agali, I chewed on larch sap in the forests and I met Aisholpan.On my travels in Mongolia, there were long-drops for loos, hand-wipes for showers, cardboard-tasting cheese and winds that whipped dust over everything I owned, but living with the Kazakh Eagle Hunters gave my story shape. I’m not saying you have to traipse off to Mongolia to find a story, but I do think that our world is full of incredible people and places, both close to home and further afield, and if our eyes are open (and not glued to our phones) we’re more likely to find this magic.On the one hand, I explore the outdoors because I am full of wonder at our incredible world and, as author John Muir said: ‘The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark’ but on the other hand, I explore because my adventures, and the dozens of hand-drawn maps that follow them, bring my stories to life.I’m dyslexic and my processing skills are dreadful, so I crave visual prompts throughout the writing process.My husband’s ancestors are Norwegian and every summer we go to the Norwegian fjords and stay on a little island out at sea, not far from Lillesand.There we put out nets to catch cod, turbot and sole, we dive for mussels, we let down pots to catch crab and we fish for mackerel from a rowing boat.Successful children's author Abi Elphinstone reveals how spending time in nature while she was growing up sparked a lifelong love of the outdoors, which has led to her experiencing wilderness adventures in order to create convincing fictional worlds I grew up in the wilds of Scotland where weekends were spent scrambling over the moors, building dens in the woods and jumping into icy rivers.In the school holidays, I’d go searching for golden eagles up the glen with my dad and sometimes we’d spot one in its eyrie on the highest crag.You’ve lived a full life that’s packed with observations and adventures, and you shouldn’t exit this Earth without chronicling them in some way.Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, your life is the laboratory for creating a great book or story.