PLAYING TO THE PLACE ITSELF
by Jnana Hodson
I’ve often wondered if location itself can be a character in a novel. Think of Huck Finn and the Mississippi. Or Moby Dick and the ocean. Or New York City in thousands of American novels and movies and television shows.
So maybe the question turns on how a place works and moves as a character. What is it saying within the humans? How is it impacting them? In other words, simply giving the landscape its due in full sight rather than restraining it somewhere in the background.
I’ve already admitted my bias in this. I think of one fine author who finds a new seat – I’d say chair, but they’re often old and simply appropriated for the new project, one that feels right – for every volume he’s written. For me, it’s the place itself.
My Northwest Passion novels, beginning with Promise, certainly invoke place. The series opens in the railroad crossing town of Prairie Depot before leaping to the Ozarks and then the interior desert of the Pacific Northwest, where the action intensifies.
Over the years since I left there, I’ve also wondered how my life and writing would have gone had I been able to remain in that place – or at least that corner of the nation.
It felt so healthy in contrast to the Rust Belt where I was headed and then abandoned.
I much prefer a life full of Promise. Hope you do, too.
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