On the edge of the Twilight zone
by Sharon Ashwood on January 21st, 2009

My books are set in the fictional city of Fairview. I chose to write about a place that doesn’t actually exist because:
a) I’m not going to upset anyone by having their property trampled by imaginary zombies, make unkind remarks about their menu, or imply their ancestor’s grave is inhabited by demons;
b) this avoids embarrassment in the event I get real-life geography wrong (quite possible since I blunder through life without a solid concept of left and right); and,
c) I can mess with the map and put things where I need them. In fact, I moved an entire college campus several miles north the other day without breaking a sweat.

But … just in case some future adoring fans want to make a pilgrimage, Fairview is really an enhanced version of my own home town of Victoria, British Columbia. If anyone wants to know what the countryside looks like, go see the movie, Twilight. It’s fairly similar, except we’re on an island so there’s more coast and a smidgen more sun. Maybe.

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From the end of my street, I can see Washington State across the water. A block away is a large and beautiful park that is home to herons, occasionally swans, the usual rabble of ducks and gulls, many peacocks, and a collection of bald eagles. Just so you know it’s not always Soggy City here, I took this on my way to work:

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A few blocks the other way is a cemetery that dates back to the 1800s. I used it as the basis for St. Andrew’s Cemetery in Ravenous. People who read the book should look for this angel.

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Historically, Victoria was part of the coastal trade route that included San Francisco and Seattle, so there’s a similarity in the older architecture. It also has a similar funky factor, love of coffee, and environmental consciousness. What makes Victoria different is its size. It still has a bit of a small-town feel.

Why did I set my books here? I wanted to use the odd, unique nuances of the city I knew—the speech rhythms, the atmosphere, the mix of heritage and modern elements that makes one place different from another. My editor did ask me to take some of the regionalisms and certain items of clothing out of the text—apparently our fondness for sweatshirts doesn’t play well in New York, but hey, it’s damp and clammy here! Nevertheless, I think the flavour of my home comes through.

We’re a tourist town. Come visit us sometime! I promise the zombies are friendly.

7 comments to “On the edge of the Twilight zone”

  1. 1

    So…what does Victoria look like when it’s NOT winter? :wink: I think on a travel show I saw cobblestoned streets, but maybe that’s just in a historical district???

    New Yorkers don’t like sweatshirts. Oh man, NY needs diversity in clothing! :mrgreen:

    Have a lovely day! :-)


  2. 2

    Such pretty pictures! What a beautiful angel. And I just read TWILIGHT and loved the setting. I’m not sure if the limited-sun factor would even bother me. I don’t think so.

    I can’t wait to read Ravenous. In fact, I’m ravenous for Ravenous. :smile: Zombies! Woo hoo!


  3. 3

    The limited sun factor does get to some people, Kim, but I fortunately seem to cope. Maybe all the mental travel writers do helps.

    On the other hand, every so often we can have patches of dry, hot weather in the summer. Strange as it may seem, right along the south coast we have a lot of palm trees! Something for everybody, I guess …


  4. 4

    or imply their ancestor’s grave is inhabited by demons

    What? That’s not in the Tourism & Convention Bureau brochure?


  5. 5

    I would love to visit Fairview. I’m happy to hear that the zombies are friendly.


  6. 6

    Well, Jessa, we tried putting the demons into the brochure, but then we had a sad influx of exorcism conventioneers. The groundskeepers at the cemetery were livid.


  7. 7

    I’d love to visit Victoria…it’s a lot warmer than Ottawa, LOL. The fog is wonderfully atmospheric. Perfect for a night of ghoulish delight.


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