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  • My mom for many years sold car insurance with the AAA. Because of this, she could get me street maps for almost every state and city in the US, which for a map nut since the day I was conscious of them was a good thing. For a period over the same years as the creation of Vandalia I also was writing short stories and chapters of novels never finished. I would choose a city somewhere where the story took place, and then I’d ask my mom to get a map for me of that city. Yuma, Spokane, Berlin NH, Parkersburg WV. I would study those maps, read about them in the encyclopedias we always had or get books from the school library, and then start writing.

    But the thing is I never set a story in Vandalia. I know I thought about it, and it would be a perfectly natural thing to do. I mean, who knows these streets better than me? I wonder why that is.

    Sitting here writing about my big map now for the first time, what I have realized is that while there are memoir elements, some more than others, I’m also writing fiction. I am describing a fictional place. Of course, even though I have the map in front of me, and I can picture what is there, this is not real! Remember this! It is fiction. So I’m writing my first fiction in a very very very long time, I guess. Well, a few pages at least.

    I’m not saying I am now going to do what I never did as a kid, write a fictional story set in my fictional place, with characters and action and plot and all that. But then who knows what I’ll be writing about ten-twenty years from now. It’s just what I’m thinking about after a long and busy day and I’ve had a few pints at the pub to wind down and my brain is fried and I don’t have a TV.

    Part nine in a series - Intro here
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