It seems like everyone wants to visit Paris. Maybe not the Paris of today’s tourists with long lines outside the Louvre Museum and very expensive coffees? The romantic daydreams are of another Paris — the city of Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and company.
Many places shine at particular moments in history and they become perfect settings for fiction. Sometimes it’s historical. The Cairo of 1922 when Howard Carter discovered King Tut’s tomb is one of my fantasies. (Probably too many Mummy movies as a child.) Other people yearn to visit Richmond, Virginia as the Confederacy crumbled; London in the MOD 1960s (or during Jack the Ripper’s reign of criminal terror); Rome during the time of Claudius; or the Tower of London when Anne Boleyn was about to face her executioner.
Sometimes it’s the clothes.
Where would all those Regency Romances be without the beautiful gowns and complicated lingerie? Sometimes it’s the music — Detroit when it was the cradle of Motown. Sometimes it’s the art — Gauguin’s Tahiti.
Most places shine at several times in different ways. I’ve seen productions of La Boheme set in Paris of the 1920s and Paris of the 1950s and loved them both. They were different and equally valid, poetic and vivid.
New York City has a bunch of moments that have inspired writers. My part of the city is full of these TIMES/PLACES. Some readers long to visit the city of Henry James’ “Washington Square” and others long for the Bleecker Street of Bob Dylan. I’m fascinated by the 1920s when The Village as the nexus of writers while Broadway sang the latest Gershwin tunes, Tammany Hall controlled politics, and immigrants crowded into the Lower East Side.
What Time/Place draws you to a story?