Okay, don’t mean to be creeping you out or anything, but my house is haunted. Yes. Really. So was the house before it and the one before that. I see things and often hear voices. Items mysteriously move from place to place and I swear at times the ghosts are playing with me. And THAT’S not the creepy part.
See, this kind of thing doesn’t bother me. All my life these spirits/angels/ghosts/apparitions, what ever you want to call them, have been hanging around. You might say I’m never really lonely, huh? This doesn’t bother me at all and as a writer, I’d be negligent if I didn’t give my ‘friends’ some credit for the ideas that grow and form from spook-induced experiences. Strange, magnificent plot and character development solutions have come to me through dreams or visions or just plain mysterious words whispered into my ear. Honest, I’m not that weird. Not crazy. Not certifiable. It’s just how life is. The life of a writer. It’s a unique place, being a writer. The world always looks a little different to us than it does to anyone else. I’m betting that whether you’re willing to admit it or not, you travel with a few high energy creative spirits too.
Take the creation of Cold in California (http://deborahriley-magnus.com/CIC/ColdinCAMain.html). This idea came to me like a bolt of lightening and the entire bizarre universe formed before my very eyes. Dead supernaturals; werewolves, trolls, pixies, fairies and shape-shifters joined together with twice-baked vampires to live out purgatory in a West Hollywood warehouse. Cool huh? And oh so much fun to write. The goal of every character is to find salvation of some kind; in the hero, dead vampire Gabriel’s case … to earn heaven.
Now comes the creepy part. Of course, I drove around Los Angeles, checking out neighborhoods and warehouses to cast one of the most interesting characters in the book, the Holding Tank itself. The warehouse I chose as my inspiration was perfect. Empty. Spooky. Filled with possibilities. I could just hear Crudo (the troll in charge), his booming voice directing the dead inmates to build private rooms, separate off his office, put in a kitchen and keep it clean. I could almost see the supernatural creatures who seldom leave, (Mumbu the South African voodoo-loving dead fairy; Stick Man, the native American twelve-foot tall legend; and the pack of grinning gnomes that remind Gabriel of the Seven Dwarves minus Grumpy) roaming around the cavernous space, watching Soaps and discussing old times.
It was fun and served well, but since the West Hollywood warehouse met its demise at the end of Cold in California, I was off again to search a replacement Holding Tank for the second book, Monkey Jump. This is where the practical process went way past imaginative entertainment and crossed into something a little bit … extraordinary. I started to see strange and wondrous things and now I can’t shake a curiosity.
Rather than tell you, I’m going to challenge you. Do me a favor, all you writers out there. Take a drive around your town, slow down when you see that warehouse at the end of the street, the one you pass everyday on your way to work, or the deserted one up on the hill. Close your eyes and feel it.
Am I really nuts, or do you suspect there’s a dead supernatural Holding Tank in your neighborhood too? Doesn’t that guy you see on the train look a little like a troll? Could that tall woman be an elf? Maybe those kids aren’t really kids playing in the park, maybe they’re gnomes getting a little fresh air and exercise. And … wasn’t that big white dog a man last time you looked?
Do you suspect there’s a Holding Tank in your neighborhood? Let me know because I swear there’s one in Rancho Dominguez, just off the 405 northbound exit.