My friend Bunny just set this off.
I told her it was really high time for me to go to New York to do some research for my new book, titled (if the publisher does not object) “White House, Red Carpet”. It is mainly set in Brooklyn and the theater district of Manhattan, and while I have been in Manhattan my knowledge of Brooklyn is sketchy.
As most of my blog readers know, a big part of my first book, “TheDistant Shore” (soon to be published by Buddhapuss Ink. LLC) plays in a small coast town in Norway. Bunny just asked me if I’ve been there, and I told her, yes, I’ve been.
I remember when I got out of the car there, after driving all day long down from Alesund in the North. It was the middle of May, and quite cold, and when we got there it was raining and getting dark, quite early in the day too. I remember the hotel, just like on this picture, the parking lot not paved, and only this little cobbled street with the three stores on it leading up the hill. There were some small ships in the harbor, the water of the bay was calm and leaden in the steady drizzle, the sky low and grey, like a drawn curtain. And it was so quiet.
I stood there while my friend complained about the weather, and just like that the place connected to me. It felt as if it had been waiting for me, as if we were drawing this breath of release together. My soul flowed away from me, flowed to mingle with the wind and the rain and the cry of the seagulls and the beacon of the lighthouse far out where the bay met the ocean. I looked out over the water and wanted to be a tree, dig my toes into the soil and take root, dissolve into my surroundings.
We had booked rooms in the only hotel, the yellow building directly on the edge of the water.
We went inside to register, and while the blond girl at the counter got our room keys I looked around. It was not a spectacular hotel lobby, but it had a charm all of its own in its simple elegance. As we went to the lifts I had this sudden vision.
Yes, I know it sounds trite, but that is how it was. I saw this one scene which now is a centerpiece in my novel, the moment when the long-lost lovers meet again after so many years, when Naomi steps out of that same lift, sees Jon and drops the tray with the plates.
For ever and ever this was the only instant of the story I carried around with me, this one look, this meeting. When I started writing down the whole story I never thought beyond this point, this was what I wanted to describe, explore the emotions and reactions, and I had no idea how it would go on from there. Thankfully, my characters knew quite well where they were headed and the novel wrote itself, just like the second is writing itself.
There is another scene in my story, where Jon remarks on something he witnesses and can’t explain to himself. Naomi solves the mystery for him, and it is quite mundane, but I did not make it up.
Before my friend and I went down for dinner I spent quite some time staring out of the window in my room. Across a small arm of the bay was a sort of quay, a depot or factory building on it, and for the longest time cars drove up, stood there for a few minutes, their motors running, and left again. There were quite a number of them too. I never figured out what their reason was, but it fascinated me enough to pick it up again for my book.
I’m not going to tell you which explanation Naomi comes up with. If you want to solve the riddle of the cars on the dock you’ll have to read my book.
I write about places I know. Places I’ve been. Most of the time, at least. I’ve not been to Malibu yet, but so far no one has complained about my depictions.
The main point though is, if you’ve been to a place you choose as a setting you can describe how it feels, smells, tastes. There will be a connection. Granted, Floro was a lucky find. But still. I like to write about places I’ve been. So NYC, here I come. Again.