I’ve written about place in fiction in this space before (see Place in Fiction, Dec. 5, 2013). “Place” in that earlier post referred to a region or county or town wherein generations of characters could live and die and bring a story to life, but there are places within a “place” that also serve as useful touchstones for writer and reader. This is especially true of writers who attempt to portray, and perhaps preserve, a particular locale through a series of works. Faulkner comes to mind. I’ve noted before that one of the reasons I began writing seriously six years ago was my belief that the world I knew as a child was disappearing. I grew up in Chapel Hill, NC, a small, Southern college town of 12,000 souls, not counting the students at the University. That “place” no longer exists except in my head, and perhaps a few others. My first novel, A Hollow Cup, was–among other things– an effort to recall my hometown for people who once knew it, as well as to introduce it to younger readers.
New Hope (Chapel Hill) is also the setting for my most recent book, Gods and Lesser Men, and it makes a cameo appearance in The Kingfishers. The novel I’m writing now, Titan’s Brood–now nearing the first “first draft” stage–likewise takes place in New Hope, which has become a character as well as a setting. Its aspect, characterized by buildings and landscapes always in my mind when I’m writing, has changed over the years–from the 50’s to the present–but some of it–in my books at least–remains constant. I’d like to share those places with my readers. These photos will appear occasionally in subsequent posts.
This building is central to all the New Hope books. Always referred to as “the old stucco bungalow,” it serves as the hero’s “office” from which he sallies forth to take on whatever is at hand. Built in 1843, it was the first law office in Chapel Hill, just as it is in the books.