Wherever You Go…
by Wendy L. Callahan
Sometimes we live somewhere we love. Sometimes we live somewhere we loathe. Sometimes we move and the anticipation of it can bring up any number of feelings, including extremes of excitement and disappointment.
While my first published works were set in places I was familiar with (for example, my dark vampire fantasy Dead Wrong [Damnation Books, 2010], is set in my hometown of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where I lived for nearly 20 years), my later works were strongly influenced by where I lived at the time. In a way, writing where you know dovetails nicely with writing what you know. World building can be a little easier if you are writing details you don’t need to create from your imagination.
However, my most inspired work came from my surroundings later in life. One move thrilled me, while the other left me uncertain, to say the least.
In 2011, I moved to England. Oh yes, this was an Anglophile’s dream – to live in the land of Shakespear and Doctor Who and Monty Python! Everywhere I looked, I saw beauty and history. England looked and felt just as it “should” in my girlish fantasies. Perhaps I had a little too much Jane Austen and Emily Bronte coloring my expectations, but I saw every bit of my literary dreams and more in my surroundings.
Houses in the village where I lived were quaint stone affairs, with thatched roofs. The pubs were raucous (especially when football was on!), yet cozy places to wind down at the end of a long day. And the fog – oh, that fog. I could get lost in it all day, if only the sunshine wouldn’t dissipate it later.
It was in England that I dreamed up the story of Demetra, my heroine in The Chronos Clock (Aetheric Artifacts: Book One). Demetra lived for tea, cake, and a good adventure, not to mention the opportunity to mock everything and everyone that crossed her path. Over the course of three novels and one short story, she partied in London, solved a mystery in Greenwich, and even ventured to one of the small islands along the Thames to rescue her kidnapped fiancé from a gothic manor. All of this came from the two years I – and my overactive imagination – resided in England.
About a year into our time there, however, we had to decide where we would move next. After a great deal of consideration and weighing the possibilities, we chose Nebraska.
Of course, as a Stephen King fan in the 80s and 90s, my reaction was, “Oh sure – put a New Englander in the state where Children of the Corn happened.”
But, rather than weirdly religious children in Amish garb chasing after me with implements of barnyard destruction, I discovered rolling golden hills, prairies of waving grass, and endless blue sky. When friend after friend from back home said, “You’re moving to Nebraska? Oh, I’m so sorry,” I told them I had not just natural beauty to enjoy, but comic book stores, sci-fi conventions, and constant discoveries that Nebraska was more than meets the eye.
Which, in turn, led to inspiration for my current projects. As they are currently on query, I cannot share much about them, except a few, teasing tidbits. First, both novels are about creatures that should not exist in this world and need to hide from humans. Second, they find Nebraska to be an excellent place to do so because while the eastern part of the state is quite heavily populated, the rest of the state is not.
My inspiration for these stories came from the ghost towns here. There is one within two miles of my home, and a great many others throughout the state if you just know where to look.
What I learned in twenty years of moving with a military spouse is this: take each place as it comes. You might be surprised at what you see when you look beyond the mundane or just open yourself up to the possibilities.
Wendy is an urban and steampunk fantasy author, as well as a genealogical Nancy Drew in disguise. You can learn more about her and her work at www.WendyLCallahan.com.