9.19.2013

Research trip (and excerpt)!

Amtrak to Portland - Sightseer car
So, what do you do when you're waiting for galleys on one book and a revision letter on another? Start something new of course!

This weekend I took the Amtrak down to Portland to do research. I HEART Portland. Any excuse will do, but setting a book there gave me a reason to immerse myself for a couple of days. And really Portland is a perfect setting for my latest story, LOST THINGS, FOUND THINGS. Artsy/funky worldbuilding, a supernatural undercurrent, and an exploration of the tactile nature of books themselves.

I walked and bussed all over the city. I especially loved wandering the streets of Southeast Portland -- the Hawthorne, Belmont, and Division Street neighborhoods. Another highlight was my VIP tour of Powell's City of Books, where key scenes in the book will be set -- what a treat! Many thanks to store manager Bruce for agreeing to be my guide, introducing me around, and making me feel welcome.

Curious yet? Just for fun, here's an excerpt, with a few photos from my trip.

LOST THINGS, FOUND THINGS (Excerpt)

Belmont neighborhood 
I knew my version of reality was a little skewed from most people’s. My focus was often no more than three feet in front of my face. I could see a world in a grain of sand without even trying, and I found comfort in the connections between things that most people ignored. But the daydreams of the last few weeks were something new, and they had troubled me. They made me feel like I was living another life in the spaces in between—the bus ride home, brushing my teeth, sipping my morning coffee. They waited for quiet moments to ambush me.  

In contacting Galen Oss, I hoped to learn something that might help me understand what was happening to me. It was a measure of how desperate I’d become that I considered the possibility he might be someone who’d been watching me—maybe even someone who wanted to hurt me—an acceptable risk.

Still, when Galen emailed to confirm that he could be at Powell’s in half an hour, I texted Nasra and told her I was meeting a prospective client and asked if she could drop by the cafe after she got off work. Just in case.

# # #

Powell's City of Books
I was fascinated by the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. By Holly Golightly’s lifestyle—the troubling symbiosis between her and the men in the film—as well as her odd backstory. Holly and I both had a twist of Southern weirdness in the cocktails of our past. Prowling the aisles of the labyrinthine Powell’s City of Books, I realized I felt the same way about the store as Holly felt about Tiffany’s: “Nothing very bad could happen to you there.”

After ten minutes of half-hearted browsing I made my way to the coffee shop at the 11th and Burnside corner of the street-level floor. As I scanned the other patrons my eyes were drawn to a figure rising from a table near the windows that faced onto the street.
Coffee shop at Powell's - Hero & heroine meet

He was not at all what I’d expected. Dressed in jeans and a soft-looking heather-gray t-shirt with a pocket too small to be practical, he looked like one of my friends. And my friends could not afford my work. I reminded myself that wasn’t really why I was here.

I weaved my way toward his table, studying him. He was tired, that much was obvious from the shadowy indentations and crinkles around his eyes. But there was something else about him I was avoiding—attempting to distract myself with details rather than take in the whole.

He was a flesh-and-blood storybook hero. Or at least my idea of one, which like most of my ideas probably veered a few degrees from center. But it was hard to imagine anyone could fail to appreciate the aesthetics here.


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