Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Location, Location, Location!
Okay, I stole that title from one of my sister’s articles but since I’m older than her, I can do what I want. At least that’s what I tell her. Never believes me though.
In any case it’s still apropos especially when talking about locations inspiring writing. One of my favorite locations is where my Future Imperfect series takes place: Las Vegas, Nevada.
Why? Aside from the obvious draw of gambling the city is one of a kind. First and foremost, it’s the location of the location that sets it apart. Las Vegas is in the center of nowhere. It’s surrounded by seemingly barren desert for hundreds of miles (if you discount State Line and Jean - two other mini Mecca for gambling: sort of pre-Vegas Vegas) when it suddenly rises up garish and loud if you arrive by night; tacky and drab if you arrive before sunset. Either time of day your first glimpse of Sin City is something you most likely won’t ever forget.
I’ve been visiting Las Vegas since the Excalibur was the new, impressive casino resort, circa roughly 1990. I’ve seen implosions of casinos and explosions of them as well. While some were blown down, others exploded up onto the Strip like eruptions of decadence and glamorous luxury. My mother still holds the belief that Bugsy Siegel is still the best psychologist in the world. She says that he tapped into the one thing people can barely resist: the luck of the draw and the possibility of that big win. Don’t believe her? Walk through any casino and listen to those one armed bandits, the slot machines.
Yet, while that is one of major reasons for setting Future Imperfect there, the city also jives with my story of a near future Las Vegas, one that is down on its own luck and scrambling to function as a city at any cost. When I started the series I wanted to set it somewhere instantly recognizable and somewhere that readers could picture as increasingly decrepit and desperate. Las Vegas has both those elements to different degrees and its economy right now is in dire straits, perhaps not to the extent as in the series but close and that makes Future Imperfect very plausible. If you’ve ever watched the show Cops, you might have seen the show on location in Vegas. That show exposes another side of Sin City, perhaps where some of the real sin happens—on the back streets and alleys off the Strip. Again, it all adds to the verisimilitude of Future Imperfect; that there is more to the city than just the casinos and adventures. Another aspect that I love about a future Las Vegas in financial desperation is that I can play loose and fast with rules and regulations! I have police and hospital staff pulling double and triple duty and the city officials looking the other way or saying “damn the torpedoes!” just to keep the city running. In Future Imperfect for the most part I’ve done away with protocols and procedures and city personnel do whatever they need to solve crimes and keep as much order as they can! It’s the perfect venue for crime and corruption to thrive virtually unchecked!
And finally, I come back to the biggest draw of all for me as an author: that writhing, seething, snaking thing called the Las Vegas Strip, that living organism comprised of thousands of tourists, tramps, ladies of the evening, and the rest of the working class population of Sin City all of whom draw their lives and livelihoods from it. If you drive down the Strip any time from dusk until dawn, you can almost feel it, that rhythm and music of city’s heartbeat, the people on the street acting as its lifeblood flowing up and down the artery of Las Vegas Boulevard. The real music spills out onto the boulevard from open faced smaller casinos, from fountains and fires and light shows of the giant casinos and even the cars move through traffic to the beat. This city is alive for good or bad, and in Future Imperfect you can take what you need from it but always at a cost. It can be your last day or your last dollar but Las Vegas in 2032 always exacts its price and there’s no hedging your bets. If you’re brave enough, foolish enough or crazy enough you might just hit it big in both love and money. And if you do, head out and don’t look back. Otherwise you might fall out of one love and into another: that beautiful mirage of an oasis located in the middle of nowhere.
Thanks for visiting the blog, Patti! *smiles* Patti has generously autographed a UNIQUE MEDIA Map of Las Vegas (ready for framing) and several postcards.
All you have to do to have a chance at winning the map & an autographed postcard is to sign in and tell Patti what you LOVE about Las Vegas. I'll pull the winner's name out of a hat on FRI, 18 JUN and announce it that morning (PST TIME) So C'Mon and sign in. What do you *LOVE* about Vegas?