As I viewed photographs of the kind of Victorian house her family would gravitate toward, having a round tower at one corner seemed natural – especially one capped by a pointy roof commonly called a witch’s hat. The idea of living in a tall-ceilinged attic, with its air of private retreat, holds romantic appeal anyway, but having it open out into a circle room with views overlooking the street in both directions strikes me as a plus. How about you?
It wasn’t until my new novel, What’s Left, had undergone several major revisions that I realized this touched on an image running through some of my earlier fiction. In Big Inca versus a New Pony Express Rider, for instance, Bill winds up living in the windowed room atop one of the towers in the historic mills his enterprise is renovating. My Hippie Drum and Hippie Love novels both have scenes in a tree house built out over the riverbank – and that one even has stained-glass windows.
I’m still moved by the descriptions of summers a circle of young writers experienced in forest lookout towers in the Pacific Northwest, including Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg.
Returning to What’s Left, we can even ask about the fact that when she moves with her parents and brothers a block down the street, it’s to the top floor of an apartment building they own.
What’s this with height, then? Where would you rather have your personal space – on the top floor or down on the first floor? Or somewhere in between?