So I am in Chicago this week, away from what is now home (Seattle), but back in what, for many years, was home to me: the city of big shoulders, the Windy City. I lived here for more than sixteen years and this city, more than any other, is home to me—and more than that, it’s inspiration.
That’s what I’m thinking about this morning: how places inspire us, both in writing and in life. Chicago for me is an inspiration I simply cannot get away from. Its mean streets, its gorgeous boulevards and skyline, its hard-working, but complicated people. For me, it’s always been easy to return to Chicago in my mind, which is maybe why I use it so often as a backdrop in my writing.
Chicago is a major character in so many of my works. It’s in my serial killer thriller, IM; it’s the place my troubled character in my haunted house story A Demon Inside flees, it’s where my beloved gay couple meet their fate when a hate crime changes their lives forever in Bashed; it’s where my young stripper dances in Tricks and my star-crossed escort lovers meet in Rent; it’s where my chubby-chaser romance, Chaser, takes place. It’s even the backdrop for my upcoming sequel to Chaser,
The city is in my blood. It’s easy to disappear within its grid-like streets, which end at its eastern side at the ever-changing moods and colors of Lake Michigan. I don’t even have to think about where things are happening when I write—because I simply return there in my imagination.
Being here now, sitting here this morning in my friend’s apartment in the far-north neighborhood of Rogers Park, with the lake a couple of blocks over, I am wondering if there’s a special place that inspires other writers, or if there’s a special place that
connects with readers on a deeper level.
What’s that place for you? As a writer, is there a place you can go effortlessly in your imagination? As a reader, do you appreciate real places when you read a story, or do you prefer a more fantastic universe in which the stories you read are set? I hope you’ll give me some insight in the comments below.
For me, though, Chicago will always be a kind of home. I am in Seattle now and have a great love for that gorgeous city, with its mountains and water (and my beloved family), but I wonder if I will ever loose myself from the bonds of Chicago, if it’s a place where,
even if I never live here again, I will continue to return to in my imagination.
Seattle is slowly creeping into my work. Raining Men is set in both Chicago and Seattle and I am getting almost as comfortable writing stories set there as here, but Chicago has an almost magical hold.
I haven’t been here for five years, yet this week, walking Chicago streets and visiting old haunts, it’s almost as if I’ve never left.
Tell me about your special place.
All photos (c) 2013 by Rick R. Reed
Rick R.Reed’s contact information
Visit Rick’s website at http://www.rickrreed.com
or follow his blog at http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/.
You can also like Rick on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
or on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/rickrreed.