The Mountains by Sydney Salter

I remember vividly a moment in which I realized that my surroundings absolutely affected my writing: I was coming out of a matinee of one of the Harry Potter films, feeling a bit of writerly envy for the series' success, but mainly for the tremendous world-building--the magic, the creatures, the secret passageways, alleys! 

I walked out of the dark theater into a glorious sunny day (we have a lot of these in Utah). The mountains, oh, the mountains--they take my breathe away so often when I'm just driving along burdened by errands, and then wham! The mountains.

Many years have passed since that moment, but I still tend to write stories based in a mountainous western setting, even if I skip all the cultural baggage that comes with Utah locales. I set My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters in Reno, a city also ringed by mountains, where I loved living as a teenager. I based the waterpark in Swoon At Your Own Risk after a quirky little place a few minutes from my house in Utah. 

Every morning I start my day snuggling on my sofa with a cup of coffee and a book. I watch the sun come over the mountains, a hint of pink blooming across the sky. And then I get up to write. 


  1. I agree about the influence of mountains. I very much enjoyed the ones we saw in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, etc. on our recent trip west. While ours in Maine are much smaller, they're an integral part of what I write about as well.


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