So while I've been doing the legwork for the new work in progress, I was chatting with an indie bookstore owner who mentioned a local castle to me.
Turns out I live less than three miles from a castle and I never knew it! Nestled in along the river, next to the bike path, there's an honest-to-goodness castle with a drawbridge and a moat ... And why am I surprised? Granted it isn't inhabited, but it's right there!
Two towns over there is another castle, this one on a well-traveled road and inhabited. (I knew about that one...)
The city I live in is rich with architecture. So many different styles are represented, from bungalows, to Victorians, to Edwardians, to stone cottages. You name it, we got it. I love driving down the side streets looking at other people's homes. One of the houses down the street looks right out of a fairy tale, and they've landscaped and decorated it that way.
Once upon a time, while driving to the day job, I drove past a house surrounded by an iron fence, set off the road, looking very mysterious and potentially haunted. I'd hoped to photograph that place, knowing it would show up in one of my stories. Wouldn't you know it, I didn't make it in time. That house has been replaced by a strip mall. What a shame. So I had to improvise with "this" picture when I finally wrote "Harper Manor." It isn't what I'd pictured, but it works.
The city does a historic house tour every Labor Day, and I've had the privilege to tour some of the grander abodes about town.
There are mansions and manor homes all throughout my city, most of them on main thoroughfares. Since Labor Day has come and gone this year, DH and I went out on Sunday, creeping down the side streets well below the speed limit admiring the interesting houses. Don't worry, he pulled over to the side when cars got close enough to follow us. My favorites are still the stone cottages by the river - I wrote one of those into HEART FOR RENT, with an Option.
Back when houses were being built everywhere, DH and I used to tour them - not so much to buy as to see some of the new ideas in home layouts and decorating. All of these things help when I write my sense of "place."
I'm always moved by a unique setting, interesting architecture or where a place is situated. Something tells me that castle in the neighborhood may show up in a story somewhere down the road. The legends that go with it are very interesting...