It occurs to me that in writing MU4, this is the first novel in this universe that I’m actually writing while living in a large city, rather than in a small town somewhere in New England. [Not that San Francisco is a large city geography-wise, as it’s only 7 x 7 miles, but it is about 815k residents.] When I was writing the original Bridgetown Trilogy, I envisioned the Bridgetown Sprawl very much like a portion of Los Angeles, which I’d never visited let alone seen or researched to any extent. It was just a personal vision of a large city.
Years later, however, I’ve made multiple trips down to LA and lived in the Bay Area for several years, and also visited many other large cities and metropolises. Has this personal vision changed since then? Well, I don’t think so, at least not by much. I kind of understand the idea of distance better, for one. And thanks to my years living in the Boston area, I understand how different neighborhoods look different depending on their own locations, altitudes and so on. For example, I took that into account when I pictured Branden Hill being slightly higher in elevation than Main Street sector, but also less condensed, a mixture of residences and school campuses.
I’m kind of doing the opposite with these first few opening chapters of MU4, which take place in the Wilderlands area just west of Bridgetown. I’m using memories of living back in New England, but I’m also picturing the unincorporated areas and satellite towns here in northern California. A small city like Petaluma, or a cozy small town like Half Moon Bay. It feels kind of strange writing this sort of thing, as I really don’t think I’d have written it if we were living back on the east coast. I feel like I’m doing the exact opposite of what I’d done with the trilogy: writing a personal vision of woodlands and small towns.
Not to fear, though…Bridgetown is definitely going to be playing a big part in this novel as well. I am curious, however, if this vision of city sprawl will be different from before.