5 Things Kelley Armstrong's Characters Wished They Had In The Wilderness

During the course of the Darkness Rising trilogy, author Kelley Armstrong has sent her teen characters on a wild ride. Starting with 2011's The Gathering, heroine Maya figures out that she, and the other teens on Vancouver Island, have superpowers — powers that make them targets for an unscrupulous organization. Then in The Calling, Maya and company are kidnapped and after surviving a helicopter crash, they must navigate an uncharted forest with nothing but their extrasensory skills for help. This month, the series finale, The Rising, has the teens still on the run, but this time they aren't running away from danger, but towards answers. Today the author stops by the RT Daily Blog to discuss several supplies — non-paranormal supplies — that Maya would have loved to have had on her adventure.   

So I’ve wrapped up my Darkness Rising trilogy … and, at the same time, wrapped up The Darkest Powers. In both trilogies, the characters spend some serious time on the run. My favourite stretch had to be in The Calling, when Maya and her friends survived a helicopter crash only to find themselves stranded in an uninhabited stretch of Vancouver Island. Considering they were fleeing a forest fire when they climbed on that helicopter, they didn’t have a chance to take anything with them. Which meant that, as much of a nature girl as Maya is, she was ill-equipped to survive in the northern rain forest. They muddled through, but if they ever had to do it again, they’d want to take a few things with them.

1) Topographical Map – Not the most exciting choice, but it would have topped Maya’s list. She had only a rough idea where they’d landed and while she knew they weren’t in the middle of nowhere, they had a very hard time finding civilization without a map.

2) Matches – It gets cold on October nights, even on the relatively balmy west coast of Canada (Vancouver Island rarely sees snow). It doesn’t help if your helicopter crashed in the frigid water of the Pacific Ocean and you had to swim to shore. While it is possible to start a fire with rocks, it takes practice and very dry wood, which is hard to find in the rainforest!

3) Dry Clothing – See above re: cold. Now, my kids were bright enough not to jump into the ocean in their clothing. They took them off and wrapped them in bits of plastic from the crash. But as clever as that sounds, there’s no way to keep all the water out of those makeshift backpacks, and they didn’t come out with dry clothes.

4) A Knife – or preferably, several. While the obvious use for these would be self-defense, the threats the kids faced — a cougar and guys with guns — couldn’t be fought with a knife. Instead, sharp blades would have come in handy for clearing thick brush and building shelter. Did I mention those cold October nights? Of course, the lack of fire, dry clothing and good shelter means you may end up relying on body heat ... and that’s not always a bad thing.

5) Food – This is the obvious one and maybe it would seem as if it should be #1, but as Maya pointed out — often enough to annoy her friends — you can survive without food much longer than you can without water. Fresh water was plentiful enough, so while handfuls of late berries and nuts weren’t exactly satisfying, food would have been a relatively low priority.

That would be Maya’s list. Oh, sure, there are lots of other things that would have been great to have — tent, sleeping bag, compass, soap, hair brush ... but Maya’s a practical girl, and she’d know that the more you have to carry, the slower you’ll move, and when you’re in the wilderness, getting out is the main priority.

If there anything you’d swap out for your short list? Me, I’d be tempted to add my cell phone, but having been on Vancouver Island, I know you don’t need to get too far from civilization before it becomes a useless hunk of plastic and metal. At the very least, though, I could use it to make a list of everything I want to bring next time I’m lost in the woods.

Oh, and if you’re coming to the RT Booklovers Convention, the Young Adult track has a panel on how to survive everything from high school to zombies to being lost in the woods. Check that out here.

- Kelley Armstrong

Are you ready to follow Kelley Armstrong's characters as they fight their way back home? The entire Darkness Rising trilogy is out now, including series finale The Rising. And for more teen adventures, check out our Everything Young Adult Page