Writing scenes today describing a drive through a snowstorm, and I suddenly realized that I’m going to travel the same road when I’m on vacation. Call it pre-deja vu.
While most of my fiction bears some resemblance to reality, albeit a darker reality than the one in which I actually live, I don’t often experience this displacement much with my stories. Which gives me an idea of what I’ve been doing wrong for so many years.
My first short story, “The Hanged Man of Oz,” has several scenes where the setting pulls from places near where I used to live. A ghostly hanging tree in a mini-park between two housing developments. The look-feel-smell of an apartment block.
I can’t drive past those places without their concreteness reminding me of what it felt like to write those words. Even the scenes come back to mind, and if I could just turn round really fast I could step from here to there.
Whenever we visited my wife’s family in Austintown, Ohio, the route we take from the highway comes to a five-way intersection where Norquest intersects with Mahoning and Raccoon. I only mention the street names because the best pizza place in the world is a short distance down Raccoon: Fernando’s Wedgewood Pizza. And yet, it’s not the pizza that I remember when I come to that intersection, it’s the opening scene from Dune Messiah, when Princess Irulan schemes to overthrow Paul.
I can only hope this means I’m writing good fiction again.