Good news! The book is complete and polished and soon to be released. More on that coming up, but first, here’s some fun facts about the story and it’s setting.
The story is called Into The Light and it takes place in the Estrella Mountains southwest of Phoenix, AZ. There are several other mountain ranges in the area among them, White Tanks, North Mountain, South Mountain, and the world-famous Superstition Mountains on the eastern edge of the Valley of the Sun. These seem to be more well-known, or at least more well traveled, than the Sierra Estrella, as they were named by the first European visitors to these parts.
One of the first items that was decided on for the story was the location; The Estrella Mountains seemed like a good place to set the story. For twenty-five years I’ve commuted to the southeast valley and taken the peaceful drive home through the Gila River Community at the base of the Estrella mountains. I’ve seen it in the full sun, in the dawn and dusk, and during the violent monsoons that come sweeping through.
In 1995 I moved to the southwestern border of Phoenix and it was then that the mountain began to come into focus for me. It had always been there; silent, mysterious, enchanting. Sitting unnoticed. Allowing the “marquee players”, like the White Tanks and the Superstitions, to speak their truths. She hides her ancient secrets behind her lush green and purple veil, never speaking, never revealing what lies hidden beneath. Once I had a reason to learn more about Phoenix’s magical mountain range, the mystery only deepened.
Though I am a desert native, I grew to love the beautiful basalt and lava ridge lines protruding from the desert floor. I didn’t know much about them so on the long solo drive to and from work, I made up fantasies. Not fantasies of knights and princesses, but rather fantasies about who may have inhabited these lands before the arrival of the Europeans. I had to mix truth with fantasy so there was a little research that needed to be done.
I have spent my entire life in Southwest Phoenix under the purple shadow of the majestic, mysterious mountain and knew little about the towering peaks whose beauty and grandeur can be seen for miles around.
On the Sonoran Desert floor there are saguaro, cholla, and paloverde. The higher elevations boast juniper and live oak. Hikers in the area can expect a variety of wildlife including bighorn sheep, mule deer, and golden eagles. The Highest peak is Hayes Peak with an elevation of 4512 feet. It is named in honor of U.S. Marine Ira Hayes, World War II hero and member of the Pima Nation, which has called this area home since before the arrival of the Spaniards. These are a few details that I learned, but much more is not known.
Research came difficult since not much is written about the Estrella Mountains. We know that the Pima have lived there for centuries and it is named Star Mountain Range in the English translation. Presumably because the stars can be seen. I’ve been told that it is named because that is where the Star People came from, perhaps they did, but I didn’t find anything written to that effect. When you are the one writing the story, anything is possible.
It is interesting to note that there have been unexplained sightings in the area throughout history, although it was difficult to find documentation on that also. Everything about the Sierra Estrella was hard to find except basic information like previously mentioned, so much of the description and events in the story came from my imagination.
The process of writing The Legend Of Zip was rewarding and educational for me. It brought a new appreciation for the Valley Of The Sun’s most mysterious mountain range and I’m sure the readers will enjoy.