I want to give you a peek into the setting of Perception. Some parts might spoil things for you, so if you haven’t read the book and don’t want to know anything about the setting, I suggest skipping this post.
Of all the books and stories I have written, even those unpublished for now, none of them have as many real-life inspirations as Perception. The reason for this is simple: Parker Anderson, the main character, lives in the apartment I used to live in with my husband in Boston. I didn’t make that choice consciously. I just know that I’ve always loved New England, and I wanted this novel to happen in Boston, so Parker’s place to live in naturally turned into my former apartment. Therefore, the surroundings are also very real and familiar to me.
So, here are a few fun facts.
The apartment: Yes, it was on the last floor, and yes, we could totally go up on the roof. It took us AGES to figure this out because the main staircase didn’t lead there. The stairs leading to the roof were hidden at the back of the building, where you would go down to put the trash out. Once I figured that out, I checked it out, and behold ladies and gents, we had an actual great view of Boston. Remember when Parker goes up there and sits on the ledge? Yes, that ledge exists, and you could sit there looking at the city with the two hundred foot drop in your back, which always made me a little nervous because I’m afraid of heights.
Let’s all thank my parents for taking a few pictures when visiting me from France. Without them, there would be none. It just never occurred to me. I'm stupid like that.
As for the inside, someone asked me if the bathroom really was pink and ugly. Yes. Yes, it was. The foyer of the apartment was ridiculously oversized, but my favorite room was the living room. There were three windows there, letting sunlight pour inside. In the tiny kitchen, we did have access to the emergency stairs and ladders, but thankfully, we never had to use them.
I wish I had a better picture to show you. This one of the living room is pretty crappy, and I’ll tell you why. I took it when we were moving out, which is why most of the furniture is missing. On the left side where all those cables are (why are there so many cables???), there used to be the TV. The couch is on the right side. That little round table is where I pictured Parker drinking coffee in the morning before you-know-who (if you’ve read the book) visited.
The pizzeria at the corner of the street: This pizza place exists, and we would order from there all the time. It used to be called something I CANNOT remember, then it apparently changed into Sammy’s Pizza, and it’s right in the corner of Warren Street and Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton, MA. The guy greeting us was named Theo (not Ted like in the book, but I'm sure you're seeing the inspiration there), and I would often chit chat with him for a while while I was waiting for my pizza.
Harry’s Bar & Grill: Situated just across from the pizza place, it truly had the best pretzel bites I’ve ever had, and I just loved the cider they served. I don’t drink much, but if I do, cider is my preferred drink. I’ve never seen a ghost from one of their windows, though.
The T: Yep, that’s how they call the subway system in Boston. It’s pretty straightforward, different lines have different colors, and the closest train passing by our place was one of the trains from the green line. I love and hate them. Love them because, I mean, look at that, isn’t it cool and sort of vintage? Hate them because I’m motion sick pretty easily and riding in those trains to go to Downtown Boston always made me nauseated. It’s like being on a freaking boat. Also, the screeching of the brakes on the rails starting at 5:00 am didn’t sit well with me.
One last word for this part of the surroundings and then we'll move on: Near the ending, when Parker sits in a coffee shop while texting the other you-know-who, the name of the city really is Brookline, not Brooklyn. I’ve had a beta reader correcting that part. It’s Brookline, and it was a 20 minute walk from my place. We would go there because they had an amazing frozen yogurt place.
In the next parts, we're definitely going to dive deeper. So, I'll repeat it: if you haven't read the book and don't want any spoilers, now is a good time to stop reading.
Seriously, stop now if you don't want spoilers.
Now we're getting to the part when our favorite psychic leaves Boston to go to San Diego. Why San Diego? Because I LOVE this city. Like, love love love. While I miss Boston and New England in general a lot, I'm happy I live close to San Diego. It's a little less than two hours away by car. The first time I visited it, I was in love, and so it felt natural to place Alana in San Diego.
The strip club: Les Filles is truly named Les Girls. Why did I change the name? Because I didn't visit the place. If I know a place and have been there (and have nothing negative to say about it), I'll just leave the real name. But if I'm talking about a place I've never actually seen, then I'll change the name and let my imagination run wild. As for Les Girls, while I haven't been inside, I've seen the bright signs one night when I was spending the weekend in San Diego. We drove by the club, and those flashy signs just sparked something in my imagination. I hadn't started writing Perception yet, but I had the idea in my head, and I could clearly see Parker sitting in her car, looking anxiously at the signs. Why she was there exactly and what she was going to do, I didn't really know yet.
Union Kitchen & Tap: This is the restaurant Parker and Jonathan eat at for lunch. It is the real name, and I mention it because I love it. I love the downtown, and I love this place. If you ever visit San Diego, go an eat there! The inside of the place looks phenomenal and cozy, but I put a picture of the outside because whenever we eat there, I just love sitting outside.
Hotel Del Coronado: Not much to say except it's gorgeous. The first time I saw it, I totally wanted to go there for my honey moon. Then, we looked at the prices and decided we'd go somewhere else. Still worth seeing. You can actually visit their huge lobby, which is beautifully decorated around Christmas, and I have gone there once to have breakfast with my sister. It was a bit pricey, but the view was totally worth it.
And we're back in Boston. There's one very special place left. The Bloomsand school, which really is the Belchertown State school for the Feeble Minded. The history behind it is real, and again I changed the name because I haven't been there myself (what a shame by the way). So, I bent reality to construct something that would fit the needs of my story. I made up the farm house and all the rest. While the place is isolated, it's not as isolated as I made it out to be. Pretty much anyone can drive there and take a look around. I really wish I had gone while I could!
And this is it for the setting of Perception. I didn't mention the various coffee shops they go to, because let's be honest, it would be boring.
I hope you enjoyed this "behind the scene" post about my debut novel. I definitely enjoyed giving you these little details.
Stay spooky, my friends!