Like most native New Yorkers, I have a pretty conflicted relationship with Los Angeles. Much of that is merely logistical, after all, I don’t even know how to drive. But much of that is rooted in cultural differences around status, communication, and propriety. Generally, however, New Yorkers will often just say they don’t like Los Angeles because it doesn’t have seasons. After this past winter, that it seems we’re still digging our way out of, that argument seemed particularly invalid.
Back in February, I was in Los Angeles. It’s a yearly trip, one I make to see friends and attend a Doctor Who convention, since it’s one of the properties I do a lot of my pop-culture writing on. This year, however, I had another mission, which was to do research for Erin and I’s books. After all, she’s never been to Los Angeles. So even the places I knew well, had to be documented for her.
Most of those pictures I’m not going to share now. They’ll make more sense once Starling and the later books in the series are out. But I did want to talk a little bit about what it means to fall in love with a city through the eyes of people who don’t even exist.
Writing is weird. No matter how you describe it — when you get to the part about what happens when you’re in the groove, when the story wakes you up in the middle of the night with the solution to a structural problem that’s been haunting you for months, and when the characters become so alive they don’t just tell you their secrets but sometimes hide them from you — you sound pretty weird.
With a co-author, it’s doesn’t get less weird. How did we both know the cat was white? And why wouldn’t Alex (one of our Starling protagonists) tell us what happened to him in Indiana for months? That sort of psychic-fax, though, doesn’t tend to extend to the indisputably real, and so I spent several days dragging friends around Los Angeles because I needed photos of everything from our once-a-year brunch spot to a cathedral.
Over the last year, more and more of my focus has shifted towards Los Angeles. My pop-culture work, and my increased interest in and pursuit of telling screen-based stories have been significant drivers. So has the polar vortex. But at the end of the day, it’s taken a fictional story about fictional people to make a place that instills a deep insecurity in me as a New Yorker (am I pretty enough, charming enough for the mythology of Los Angeles?) the sort of place that makes me tear up when I get on the plane to leave.
Which means not only will you be seeing a lot more of Los Angeles from Erin and I’s keyboards, but that with any luck Los Angeles will be seeing a lot more of me.