Now that that's out of the way, let's start this new blog feature properly, with a quote from the proper author himself:
I think most of us Americans are challenged, to be very, very conscious of where we are and that’s not an easy thing to do, and I do believe that knowing where we are, has a lot to do with our knowing who we are and this gets back to the theme, I hope, of identity ...
It was a little classroom, with long, short rectangular windows at the ground level, and for some reason, we were having said literature class in the science building. I remember, because we all seemed so out of our element: a bunch of hopeful authors and essayists and brimming minds surrounded by shelves of gradiated flasks and posters detailing the layers and ecosystem of the nearby swamp. In contrast to the tall, thin, balding professor I'd taken introductory Biology from in the same room as a freshman, Ann Page was short and round, with an elegant gray bob and fringe that moved as emphatically as she did from side to side of the room as she gave her lectures, thoroughly undeterred by the change in venue. During this particular class, I realized the reason my first draft of a certain novel had been floundering for the past two years: it had plenty of characters, and the story was a whip-cracker, but the setting needed work. Lots and lots of work. After class ended, I approached her and shared my revelation.
"Angelaaa D'Onoffrioooo," she said, in the mockingly stuffy tone that always made me feel not only welcome, but at ease. "That is exactly the sort of thing I wanted you all to take from this. Walk with me and tell me about your setting."
It wasn't a particularly long walk from the science building to the hall where the literature and communications courses were held, but we lingered outside her office for a moment, then moved right on into it. I hadn't really been invited into a professor's office just to hang out before, so this was a particularly validating and amazing thing for me. Over the course of that visit, we devised a brilliant idea together: that she would host an independent study for me in my next semester, where I would make it my goal to develop my characters' sense of place: a little town called Aviario.
By the end of my sophomore year of college, Aviario had a map, and I had a mock travel guide which laid out some of its history and important locations. I also wrote a narrative of a walking tour, where a tourist encountered a few townies who pointed out local landmarks, and each landmark segued into a flashback of the town's history. While I'm brave enough to share a 17-year-old map, I don't quite have the courage to share writing of the same age. I may clean it up for a future installment of Sense of Place, though! Expect future installments to focus on specific locations in the Lines Of Power novels, with photographs of the places which inspired them, their place on the map (if applicable), and excerpts or anecdotes which help bring them to life. I hope you'll enjoy them! If there's a particular locale you'd like me to feature, leave a comment below!
Until next week, I remain your hostess,