I have never set a story where I live.

I have set stories places I’ve been and loved, using memory where I could and research for everything else. I’ve set stories places I’ve never been and asked locals for advice. I’ve set stories places that don’t exist and where I could create every last detail.

But where I live has never held any appeal to me as a setting. Partially it’s that familiarity breeds contempt–I’ve lived here since 1993–partially that where I live comes with some socio-political difficulties that I just haven’t wanted to deal with. What I write is escapism. Where I live doesn’t lend itself easily to escape.

The view from my back door.

There are things I love about where I live, don’t get me wrong. At certain times of the year it’s breathtakingly beautiful. The people can be astoundingly kind, friendly and generous. (Of course, the opposite is also true.) There’s a true desire to appreciate art and history and culture–there are two art museums within twenty minutes’ drive from my living room, there’s a symphony an hour away, there are numerous independent theaters dotted all over the valley, if I want a library I have half-a-dozen to choose from–and once a year we become Hollywood East. (The fact that an upcoming Doctor Who episode was filmed here makes me do a dance of fangirly joy.)

There’s an anthology call that I’m interested in, asking for stories set on vacation. My first thoughts were my usual suspects, the places I like to go on vacation, but I’ve been thinking lately it would be an interesting challenge to set it here, on streets I’ve driven, mountains I’ve hiked, cities I know.

And maybe the accompanying tension will make for a richer story. There’s more to setting than just the views and the scents, and those are often harder to capture unless you’ve been there.

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