I’m delighted to be participating in this bloghop event, but the theme-- “How does Washington DC inspire your writing”—is going to force me into a round about, beltway sort of approach, because even though I write regional fiction, I don’t write about the DC area. (Though I talk about certain content influences in a conversation with E. A. Aymar, Nik Korpon, and Colleen Shogan in an interview for The Thrill Begins.) My first published novel, Death Wishing, takes place in New Orleans. My second, The Juliet, is set in Death Valley. And my third and fourth novels, The Mean Bone in Her Body and Crybaby Lane, are part of a mysteries series about a fictional college/prison town in Ohio that is a mash-up of Athens and Chillicothe. I probably won't write about where I live now until I leave it.
And yet, living in the DC/VA area has a tremendous impact on my life as an indie writer. When my first novel came out, and my then publisher set up events for me in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and New Orleans, I said “sure thing!” and used my own resources to travel to those cities. No way was I going to pass up reading at legendary places like City Lights Books or Elliot Bay. That tour turned out to be a mess for reasons out of my control, but it was a thrilling experience that was worth doing—once. Everybody’s first baby is special, but the second, third, and fourth? Those books came out roughly nine months apart (make your own joke here), and there was no way I could mount traditional, cross-country tours to promote them.
So, what’s an indie gal supposed to do if her platinum card has been frozen and her private jet is in the shop indefinitely? Well, in my case, all I need to do is reach out. The DC Metro area is nothing if not writer-friendly, with great independent bookstores, several thriving reading series, supportive organizations, and frequent festivals/conferences.
If you're new to all this, here's a starter kit of places, orgs, and events to consider if you're in my neck of the woods.
One More Page Books
Upshur Street Books
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe
Reston's Used Book Shop
The Inner Loop
The Edge Reading Series at Bridge Street Books
Anything Jen Michalski organizes
Anything E. A. Aymar organizes
Fall for the Book
Conversations and Connections
Gaithersburg Book Festival
Eat Local/Read Local
Creatures, Crime, and Creativity (C3) Con
The Writer's Center
Sisters in Crime—Chesapeake Chapter
Sisters in Crime—Central VA
Writers Guild of Virginia
So to answer the question, “How does Washington DC inspire your writing?" I'd say that the organic support system of a community that LOVES BOOKS is very inspiring. I may not write about the DC area, but I sure as heck write for it.
Thanks for reading! To return to the #ReadLocalDC Blog Hop on Ellen Smith’s website, click here.