Saturday, March 9, 2013

Inspiration: Chicago (Finding Inspiration Wherever You Are)

Inspiration: Chicago

Finding Inspiration Wherever You Are

I love to travel. I go on vacation more often than I go shoe shopping. Granted, my footwear purchases are rare unless you count flip flops, even then I cap out at like, twice a year, at the absolute most. But still, I travel more than I shop for shoes. I’m a pretty low-key lady except when it comes to nail polish. In fact, I think most serious writers are a little more low-key than our non-writing counterparts.


Well, it’s simple. We’re not going to do out hair only to pull it out an hour later when we can’t quite get that scene just right. We’re also not going to play Barbie while we’re propped on in our favorite chair, spot on the couch, or at our desk for hours on end. We want to be comfortable. We want to put our focus on the words we put on the page, not the way our makeup looks. So while some women may be out finding inspiration for new hairstyles or a new clothing trend ala neon-colored jeans, we writers have a different set of priorities.

After all, ain’t no writer got time for dress-up (often.)

What writers usually find inspiring is what is going to help us write better. And now we’re finally at the point. I find inspiration in travel. I would write off my vacations as business expenses if I could (I’m working on figuring out how to do that.) So last week when I found myself heading into Chicago to fly home I wasn’t real surprised when the plot bunnies started multiplying.

First, I was met with lunch-time gridlock (which is SO not something I ever need to relive.) Then as I finally got into the city I realized something that I hadn’t expected.

I was falling in love with Chicago.


Out here on the west coast we don’t have too many true cities. We have Los Angeles, which is like one huge suburb. We have San Francisco which is a great city (my absolute favorite), but it’s so unlike Chicago.

Chicago has this beautiful classic architecture that dates back well over a century (hell, San Francisco has that, too. It’s just in a different style.) Chicago has the only ballpark in the entire world which sits in the middle of a true neighborhood—where you can catch a game from your own rooftop. Chicago has snow and ice. Chicago has Lake Shore Drive which overlooks Lake Michigan. Chicago has deep dish, a strong Irish heritage, red hots, and some of the proudest people in the Midwest.

There’s a feel to the city that I honestly didn’t expect. I didn’t expect to see carved-out water-ways between high-rises, just blocks from a killer view of the lake. I didn’t expect to see the icy waters of Lake Michigan rising up beyond the steps at the water front, and crashing into the air. I didn’t expect to happily drive around for over two hours (hey, it was below thirty and I’m a native Californian—I was not getting out of the car!) with zero desire to head to the airport.

I found myself seeing buildings described in Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series and having these moments where I could practically see Merit and Co. walking around and taking care of business. Having read about Merit, vampire and Sentinel of Cadogan House, and her undying love of her native city for seven books, I found myself wondering what it would be like to live in Chicago, to be in that world. And since I can’t live in every city I fall in love with, the best I can do is to write about them.

For your viewing pleasure (not my photos, like I said, my backside didn’t leave the car):

Some great books based in Chicago:

What’s your favorite book set in Chicago?

JC Emery writes YA, NA, and adult contemporary romance and urban fantasy. Her first novel, MARITAL BITCH, is now available for FREEon Amazon; and her second novel, a new adult urban fantasy, THE BIRTHRIGHTSERIES: ANOMALY is out on March 31st, 2013. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and stalking her sister who turns 19 today. Happy birthday, Britt! Sissy loves you. J

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