Monday, July 4, 2011

Even Fictional Characters Choose Yellow Springs

When deciding on the setting for my Urban Fantasy Novel SURPRISINGLY SUPERNATURAL, I deliberated many options. I like to write about places that I have some personal perspective to draw from. I knew I was looking for a small town and I knew I wanted it to have something special.

I've hung my hat in places like Aiea, Hawaii, Bolongo Bay, Saint Thomas USVI, Plaquemine, Louisiana, and Hilton Head, South Carolina but none of them had that unique spark I wanted to ignite the backdrop of SURPRISINGLY SUPERNATURAL.

I could have chosen any city in (or even out) of this world but I chose Yellow Springs for my main character, Elaina Mathews' home base.

There's a certain magic to YS, an inherent collection of oddities that makes you think it's not at all impossible for supernatural creatures to be lurking about behind the scenes.

Light poles and trees are decorated with hand-knitted mutated sweaters. Felt flowers bloom around town where ever the creative urge strikes and no one bats an eye, though they may flash a camera.

For weeks there was a flock of Origami swans inside Dino's Cappuccinos that started with one large paper swan. I'd like to think this one was the alpha male. The next time I went in there was a smaller more elegant paper bird next to the Origami alpha. Eventually there was a whole flock of these beautifully twisted and creased pieces of patterned paper swimming in the change bowl for Japanese Relief Efforts.

In my mind, which is admittedly a bit addled and overwrought with daydreams, it's not all that far fetched to imagine a Pixie alighting on the rim of one's coffee cup at the Underdog Cafe or encountering a tall gorgeous Elf while hiking through Glen Helen.

I was in town today for an hour and I saw a heavily tattooed man (I love tattoos by the way) wearing zombie make-up and allowing an obese ferret to ride on his shoulders while walking down Main street and I was delighted anew that I'd placed my fictional cast of oddballs in this quirky little town with all its real-life interesting strangers.

Yellow Springs is a place where random cats are seen cruising the street for treats. I've never seen one that isn't a black cat. Maybe all the tabbies and calicoes are hiding elsewhere because I've never seen one. But shop owners don't shoo them away from their doorsteps and teenagers don't taunt them with sticks. Instead, citizens pause their day to swoop down and give the plump felines a pat on the head.

It's a place where every creature is welcome and the town newspaper hands out blank name tags, encourages people to wear them and "Forget facebook. Start a conversation!"

It's a place where you can sit on a hand-painted bench stenciled with quotes of perseverance, equality and creativity, watching the native inhabitants of Yellow Springs stroll by and listen to the sounds of street musicians float on the breeze.

It's the perfect place for Elaina Mathews and her SURPRISINGLY SUPERNATURAL escapades. And the perfect place for the rest of us to come and unwind. No matter how significantly unsupernatural we may be.