For many of the great writers, it has always been a matter of drawing inspiration from their previous experiences and places that they know best.
It makes sense. For example, many of Stephen King’s stories center around the fictional town of Castle Rock, no doubt and homage to the New England setting where he grew up and still resides.
For me, of course, that place is Cleveland, and, even more so, Northeast Ohio.
Sure, some of the names have been change to protect the innocent (Like you don’t know what Forest State University actually takes the place of!). Each location that I’ve feature to this point represents a little bit of this area.
I wanted to bring this up because this is a time of great turmoil in Greater Cleveland. The jobs aren’t there like they used to be. People are leaving in droves. And every time you pick up a newspaper, watch the news or read something on the Internet, it seems like this town’s not getting any better.
Mind you, let’s not confuse the constant browbeating gets in the hands of of a site like Forbes.com with the self-deprecating humor that was recently brought about by Mike Polk’s Hastily-Made Cleveland Tourism Video and its sequel. Personally, I took the Spinal Tap approach: If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
With my writing, Cleveland’s always served as the backdrop to the action. Places like University Circle and Little Italy figure prominently, as does the Warehouse District and the Flats prior to its downturn (remember, the Stories from the Forester series timeline is between 2000 to 2003, before the East Bank completely disintegrated).
And why not? If you’re from Cleveland, you’d already know that these places were vital to this city’s history. And if someone is writing a story set in Cleveland, they damn well better mention all of these places.
I will admit that like many people, I find myself constantly wrestling with my feelings about the area. But as a writer, there’s no doubt that if I didn’t include Cleveland, there wouldn’t be much of a story, would there?