A few years ago, my wife and I and two friends took a trip to Venice, Italy. Truly a magical place. It was like being in an honest-to-God secondary world. At least to me. I got a few story ideas there, three of which made it into finished pieces with all of those being sold.
Of course, Venice has its problems like any city and the extraordinary facts of it slowly sinking into the sea, has flooded on occasion and the canals smelling bad during the warm months are well known. But with no cars being allowed in the city, Venice’s amazing culture, history and architecture, and, yes, the canals, give Venice an otherworldly ambiance like no other place.
Again, at least to me. I can’t speak for anyone else. I remember, after visiting England and getting the same type of emotional reaction to Stonehenge, a coworker who had also visited that wonderful monument, asked me what the big deal about it was.
Yikes! How do you explain that to someone who doesn’t get it? I experienced such an overpowering mystical feeling in Venice when I first stepped onto the quay from the vaparetto that brought us from the airport. I just stood and gaped at our surroundings. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. The Grand Canal, St. Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge and Market, the Jewish Ghetto, the labyrinth of winding, narrow streets where you didn’t care if you got lost, the dozens and dozens and dozens of mask shops with their huge front windows displaying a multitude of intricately-designed masks. Here was a place of real magic!
And how do I explain those feelings? I guess that’s why I write. I put all that emotion into my acts of creation. I infuse the cities I create with some element of Venice, my characters with some aspect of the strong Venetian personality, my magic with the idea that you get that ability, that strength from the land around you. It’s a part of you and you’re a part of it. The city and its denizens are a part of a great whole, a complete living entity. The city is a character in the story itself.
“The Raptor and the Lion” (published in the SQ Magazine anthology Starquake 1) takes place in contemporary Venice and is the first of my Maghi stories where Venice itself demands blood sacrifice in order to survive. The Maghi, a group of ancient sorcerers and sorceresses, are more than willing to provide that sacrifice.
“Ravilla’s Wraith”, published in the Twisted Cat Tales anthology, takes in a Venice-like city with art and, of course, cats taking center stage. But these aren’t your average, everyday cats.
My short story, “The Turin Effect” (published in Penumbra online magazine) takes place in contemporary Venice and also involves the Maghi and their nefarious plot to return to power. This time, however, they may have bitten off more than they could chew.
Finally, Venice plays a big role in my in-progress sequel to THE SIXTH PRECEPT. Much of the action of WARRIORS OF THE LIGHT takes place in that grand city and features, you guessed, the Maghi.
What cities or places have you all visited that evoked a sense of wonder for you?