A Stranger Thing has 4 major locations – Denver, Chicago, New York City, and Brussels. I thought it would be fun to share photos I took of places that inspired my writing in some of those cities! Today I am starting with Brussels, where my character Kella lives. Enjoy! 🙂 And click on Kella‘s name to read an interview with her!
It took me a long time to decide what to call my blog. Two and a half years, really, because two and a half years ago is when I realized I should be blogging. But a few weeks ago, when I started thinking seriously about it, one of the first titles that came to mind was Living in a Postcard. It’s the name of one of my books, and the “living in a postcard” theory, which my characters Hilton and Jill created and use to define their lives, is one I very much believe in too. It’s all about finding those moments you would die for and actually living them. But in the end, the name for my blog came from “The Tigger Song.”
Yeah, “The Tigger Song.” From Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too. If you Google it, it’s everywhere. I remember it from a Tigger jacket I had when I was little. It was printed on the inside of the jacket, and I used to sing it to our cat Tigger, who had markings like a tiger. When I was throwing around titles for my blog and mentioned The Thing About Postcards, it suddenly reminded me of “The Tigger Song,” which I told my mom, and she said, “Yeah, it does!” And when I realized I could even rewrite the song to be about postcards, I knew that was my title. The song would go something like:
“The Postcard Song”
The crazy thing about postcards, is postcards aren’t just blurbs
Their fronts are made out of pictures, their backs are made out of words
They always tell a story, even if it’s just one line
But the craziest thing about postcards, is they capture a moment in time
I think postcards are fascinating, one of the best and most intriguing forms of art and communication in the world. In my book Living in a Postcard, my character Hilton views a postcard as a snapshot of her life at any given moment. And this is what postcards are. Every one of them tells a story of a life at a given moment in time. There’s the most obvious way – when the story is written in a paragraph or two describing what someone is doing on vacation in the place from where the postcard was sent. But even that is just one of many stories told by that particular postcard.
That postcard also tells a story about the relationship between the person who wrote it and the person at the address printed on it, even though often that story is only known between the two of them. It tells a story about the person or people who took the photograph(s) on the front, or put together the design. It tells a story of the place or thing(s) represented on the front at the time the postcard was created.
Postcards tell other stories too. What about the ones mailed with no writing, only an address, letting the picture on the front speak for itself, along with whatever the recipient reads into the blank space on the other side? What about postcards kept by the person who bought them, as part of a collection or a scrapbook? Those tell a story too, of that person’s travels, where he or she was and what struck him or her about that place that’s reflected in the postcard and immortalized in a personal collection or album. I buy postcards from lots of places I travel, and I have them hanging on a wall in my apartment. I see them every day and they take me back to those places I’ve been and the people who were there with me. They also give me this constant sense of the bigger world, what else is out there besides my small piece of it.
Postcards can tell funny stories, like the one I used to think was so hilarious to send to all my friends when I was in Florida for spring break – the one that was completely black on the front and said “Florida at Night.” Or the ecard postcards online with the hilarious sayings like, “Romeo and Juliet is not a love story. It’s a 3-day relationship between a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old that caused 6 deaths. Sincerely, everyone who actually read it.” Postcards can tell inspiring stories with a beautiful picture or a quote that somehow adds something to your life. They can even tell secrets, like on Post Secret. They tell stories of one moment in time – the people, the place, the feelings.
I heard this quote once I really liked, in a documentary about the Titanic, that talked about “a series of inconsequential events” leading to the sinking of the ship. The idea was that each of these events alone would not have caused the ship to hit the iceberg, but when aligned together, they did. I thought, isn’t everything really caused by a series of inconsequential events? We have seemingly small, random things happen in our lives every day, and we never know which ones will still be affecting us years later. I think of each of these individually inconsequential events as postcards, and when strung together and hung in a row next to each other, they tell part of the story of our lives.
For example, in my life a few of these postcards might be “finding a Tigger jacket in the Disney Store at the mall,” “my dog Abby chasing a cat up a tree,” and “living in Indy for a year.” These events happened over a span of 19 years and would seem to have no relation to each other, and really they don’t, but aligned together, they led to the name of my blog.
Another example for me is this one day I spent in New York City. The events that would’ve by themselves been inconsequential were that it rained in the morning, I tried to go to a movie in the early afternoon but found the showtime listed online didn’t really exist, and LaGuardia Airport was closed for an hour in the late afternoon. Aligned together in that one day, these events led to a discovery that has a major connection to a trilogy I’m writing and a timeless night in New York that I’ll use in some romanticized way in a future book.
It’s such a basic idea, about all these moments that make up our lives, that I never thought about it till I heard that quote in the Titanic documentary. But it’s exactly what my blog will be – a series of entries, each of which tells a small part of the story of my life or my characters’ lives, just like a postcard does.
The crazy thing about postcards is they connect people and places across time. They can be impersonal or intimate; they can tell a complete story or a fraction of one. Everyone can see what they say, yet they can be anonymous. They’re so little, yet they tell the story of the world.
The crazy thing about postcards is they help us piece together the moments of our lives. And those moments, some seemingly inconsequential, some standouts, are the stuff of my books, and now my blog.
So thanks, Abby, for chasing the cat who became Tigger up a tree that one afternoon. 🙂