“Bloom where you are planted.”
As I have discussed with several of you over email, with the exception of The Dogwood Grove, all of my works take place in an iteration of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Past, present, and future. Re-imagined or built on the back of dramas long past. Philly,Philly, and more Philly. Why Philly? My gut response: “Why the fuck not?” How Philly of me. That response is probably a sign that I’ve been here too long, but what can be done? I like Philly as a setting because it has two major that facilitate an exciting narrative.
First, Philly is not a big city. Even with the influx of non-natives and the remaking of entire neighborhoods so that they resemble modern cityscapes, Philly is and remains, a series of old villages linked together by farm to market roads. The inhabitants of said villages are insular and loyal to place. I find that Philadelphians worry about what’s going on ‘on the block,’ even when on honeymoon. But the universe has a grudge against Philadelphia (yellow fever epidemic anyone?) and puts its energy into stirring stagnant water. The friction generated from forcing denizens out of their comfort zones and parading them around unwelcoming parts of the city is fodder for many a story.
The second feature of interest (BBC Sherlock anyone?) is the overall grimness of the city. Obscure boutiques, vegan cafes, and condo towers brighten the city’s public face, but the soul of Philly remains willfully dark. True Philadelphians revel in underdog status. For a writer, Philadelphia’s collective angst easily fuels page upon page of dark fiction. The deteriorating housing stock, crumbling industrial spaces, and unkempt sidewalks offer an irresistible buffet of visuals for any artist with dark leanings.
So why Philly? Because the despair is in the soil and only darkness blooms where ideas are planted.