There’s nothing like reading to discover new places, but there’s something special about visiting places you already know through a book. I remember reading Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast while spending a summer abroad in Paris, and seeing the city through his eyes while I was discovering it through my own was an experience I’ll always value. It’s a rare joy to look through the lens of a gifted writer into a place you love, and see it in a whole new way.
I was born and raised in Louisiana, but for over a decade now, I’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. I feel lucky that both places serve as settings for more than their fair share of stories, especially stories of the supernatural variety. Reading fantasy or science fiction set in San Francisco or New Orleans is like going through a rabbit hole to an alternate dimension.
One of my favorite ways to look at San Francisco is through the literary lens of William Gibson. He might be most famous for writing Tokyo and London, but his “Bridge Trilogy” (Virtual Light, Idoru, and All Tomorrow’s Parties) takes place partially in San Francisco, and he does fascinating things with the Oakland Bay Bridge. It becomes a community all it’s own, filled in like a sideways skyscraper and populated with squatters and some near-future equivalent of food trucks. I never drive across it without remembering his gritty vision of its fate.
There are plenty of other takes on San Francisco and its surrounding towns. Christopher Moore delivers the whole Bay Area in intimate (and hilarious) detail. He even sets part of Bloodsucking Fiends and its sequels in the Safeway where I used to buy my groceries. Seanan McGuire (and her alter ego, Mira Grant) is another author who knows and writes the Bay Area beautifully. There’s a scene in her urban fantasy Rosemary and Rue that takes place in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, and everything from the ticket kiosk to the landscaping was exactly as I remembered it. (Except for the faeries.)
I'm glad I haven't run into any vampires in the produce aisle or mischievous Fae in the botanical gardens, but imagining them there sure is fun. What are some of your favorite stories set in places you’ve called home?
A.J. Larrieu is the author of Anchored and the upcoming Twisted Miracles, the first book in her urban fantasy series, The Shadowminds. She's a Southerner, a chocolate addict, and an incurable nerd. Find out more at www.ajlarrieu.com.