Well I said I would do it, so I am. Man of my word, all that. And not even a full 24 hours has elapsed since my return from the great Southern expedition.
I rolled out of Smalltown™, Ohio early Friday morning and commenced gathering applications like fruit from various restaurants and coffeeshops. Friday night was spent scribbling the names of past employers. Saturday was when the real Louisville fun began.
In addition to turning in my applications, I had a list of novel research to complete–checks for verisimilitude. Because there’s nothing in fantasy more important than verisimilitude. /sarcasm/
But really. The city is a character in the book, and deserves to be portrayed as accurately as possible; Louisville’s personality wants to come through, and I want to let it.
Unfortunately, in my excitement to be gone, I had left my laptop cord at home. However, these are points when its good to have sent your manuscript around to friends, who can email you large swathes of text about elaborate chase scenes, which you can frantically scroll through on your iPod as you drive, realizing you’ve got everything turned around backwards and upside down.
So. I drove the wrong way down East Liberty. Or at least really, really wanted to. I almost did it, thinking I could justify it to any interfering cops as novel research.
One thing about Louisville is the plethora of one ways, dead ends, twists and turns, and streets without names (the signs sometimes say things like “to Mellwood Ave.,” rather than
giving a proper appellation). Another is the lack of parking lots. If you want to live in the city, or even visit, you need to be a quick study at parallel parking. But that, for me, adds to the playful, devilish (at the risk of seeming punny, I might even call it fey) nature of the place.
Cruising these tangled throughways, I had to blast some appropriate music. One of my characters is a music critic, so I cooked up a playlist she would have approved of and made sure to play it with the windows down: Vampire Weekend, Andrew Bird, Arcade Fire…so even when I got a little lost and found myself in weedy backlots and impassable alleys, I could still sing along.
The impound lot is one of the strange hidden places I visited in my research travels. Its down at the end of Frankfort, surrounded by scrub, full of trashed cars. I went in and talked to men trapped behind bulletproof glass, asking them strange questions like “what if my car was so wrecked by a killer monster, I didn’t even want it back after you had towed it?” I also got to take a gander at some vehicles that really did look like they’d been torn apart by trolls.
I visited more refined places, too. Louisville is a town of food and drink, and stops included Against the Grain (transcendent vegan barbecue, Belgian blond ale dry hopped with chamomile), Ghyslain (almond croissant), and Hillbilly Tea (smoked catfish with lemon tartar sauce, corn pone, artisanal tea blends). All come highly recommended. AtG and Ghyslain are old favorites, and Hillbilly Tea was a new find. If you’re ever in Possibility City, stop in any of these fine establishments. You might see me–I’m moving down there next week!