Aleese, in high school. (The photo will make sense in a moment)
When I’m writing, I get a ridiculous amount of satisfaction at giving my high school aged characters the chance to live in a world I could only dream of.
See, when I was in high school, I lived in Houston, Texas, the armpit of America. Only in Houston can you have 100% humidity, 100 degree weather, 100 AQI (air quality index), and 100 minutes of rush hour traffic run together without meriting extraordinary comment from the locals.
While I guess I should’ve taken time to appreciate the humor in the absurdity of that city’s ugliness, back then, I wanted to take after the great romantic poets whose writing I adored, and whose lifestyles seemed to be even more worthy of admiration. They seemed to have everything I wanted! In their diaries and poetry, they told stories of pressing against the sharp edges of cliffs, and wandering through daffodil and marmot-filled vales, and stumbling into the sea spray of crashing waves. They watched lightning spill out over lakes and emerged from the experience radiant with literary genius. They rode bears through their illustrious, stone-hewn university halls (or at least they tried to, eh, Byron?). It sounded utterly amazing.
Unfortunately, the most beautiful, fantastical sights I observed in my daily life were as follows:
– highly reflective puddles (I told you the photo would make sense, kind of)
– birds perched on telephones wires during sunset (I wrote poems about how it reminded me of lines of music)
– flower gardens (but only viewed from indoors, to avoid the mosquitoes)
– flawlessly applied eyeliner (I usually came off like a raccoon)
It’s no wonder that a dearth of readily available, deeply provocative and beautiful moments in nature inspired me to try my hand at fantasy writing. After all, what’s more escapist than running off to a different world?
(Nothing, of course!)
I’ve lived in far more traditionally beautiful places since graduating high school, but my escapist tendencies have stuck with me as an essential element of my style. I typically begin crafting my stories by building a deep connection with my setting. The characters and the plot always follow from there, but it is the place that gives the characters and the stories power. Sometimes, it may even give them magical powers. Because honestly. Why not?