In your mind’s eye, do you picture the story you are reading or writing happening in real-life locations? Do you picture your favorite narrative taking place in your back yard, your grandmother’s farm, or the national park you and your family camped in when you were twelve?
I do…and one of my favorite visualizations is picturing the abandoned church in HP Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark.” The building is a gaunt, steepled Victorian mansion. I get a good view of it when I drive on certain streets, and it always gives me a (welcome) shiver.
Picturing narratives taking place in real-life locations, the vivid details of sights, smells, and sounds, makes them come alive—makes them real. Whenever I reread Gone With The Wind, Scarlett’s mansion is the magnificent house of a rich friend of mine. The childhood classic The Wind In The Willows plays out in a shady glen with a trickling brook that I remember from when I lived overseas. And the events in HP Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space” takes place just a quarter mile down the road from my childhood home.
Old-fashioned black and white sf movies often included scenes filmed in the US southwestern desert, I’m guessing because the surroundings look exotic and alien. Whenever I look at desert photographs I am eleven years old again lying on my family’s sagging couch in the living room, engrossed in whatever scary Saturday matinee movie was playing on TV that week. Portions of the Lord of the Rings movies were shot in New Zealand, and thousands of people look at photographs of that beautiful landscape or visit that area themselves and imagine Frodo and his companions walking there. And whenever I drive past that Victorian mansion I think afresh of “The Haunter of the Dark.”
What exotic or familiar, buildings, areas, or landscapes do you imagine when you are reading or writing?