So when rachelmanija
was here, one of the things she said was that I ought to write an urban fantasy about Seattle. (There has been only one that I know of, Megan Lindholm's Wizard of the Pigeons
, and that was published back in the 80s. Seattle has changed a lot since then, in a lot of ways.) I think that's a great idea, actually, especially since Seattle is Seattle: green and silver, full of mists and rain, surrounded by water, divided into dozens and dozens of little neighborhoods each with their own culture, navigated by tangled and winding streets, fringed by moss and lichen, and chock full of eccentricities. It's a city that looks westward over the water, but sees, not the distant haze of the sea-horizon, but the long green tongue of a peninsula that is so thick with growth that it merits the name "rainforest." If you look another way, you can see a beautifully arched and snowcapped mountain that just might, someday, blow its top. If you look a third way, you can see the weird alien-landing spire of the Space Needle. At Pike Place Market you can buy fruit and greens and fireweed honey and handmade quilts and grains of paradise and amethyst beads and fish that fly through the air. In the International District you can go to the summer nightmarket and eat food on sticks and shop for nori and long beans and small plastic figures of Edward Elric. At Gas Works Park you can fly a kite on a hill that stands beside a huge rusty steampunk-esque gaswork. On Alki Beach once a year you can stand on the shore of the Sound and see the pirates come in.
(I am rather fond of Seattle, can you tell?)
It's also a city with its share of gloom and black coffee; it's the home of grunge music for a reason. It's not so much a city that rains every day as one that could rain every day, the clouds low and soft for weeks at a time. And these days it's a tech city, Microsoft and Amazon and an ever-changing fuzz of startups. It's a city infamous for the Seattle Chill, which is not its cold damp climate but its tendency for inhabitants to keep themselves to themselves. It's a beautifully imperfect city, and it's a city full of soft-edged boundaries: between day and night, rain and sun, cloud and sky, mist and clear, land and water, sea and shore, Wallingford and Fremont, Belltown and Downtown and First Hill and Capitol Hill. It's a city where the street goes one way and then another and you get lost and suddenly come around a corner and see the broad silver expanse of a lake.
In other words, I think it's a perfect setting for urban fantasy.
I don't want to do vampires-and-werewolves urban fantasy, mostly because it doesn't interest me. And though Bordertown and War for the Oaks
are of the kind of urban fantasy that I love, I don't think I want to do hidden faeries, either.
Instead, what I'm thinking of doing is urban fantasy like the Mabinogion. (No, that doesn't mean faerie fantasy.) What I mean by that is: in the Mabinogion, as with a lot of medieval fiction, strange things happen. There are people and beings with odd powers and odder restrictions; there are secret rules and hidden things, and a world that's a half-step away from ours. There are things you can see if you know how to look—or are taught how to look—or are cursed with being unable to look away.
In other words: I don't want to copy the mythological and folkloric figures of medieval tales, I want to copy the feel and create my own figures. No faeries, but numinous creatures and unusual mortals that are all Seattle, not transplants. And strange mist-elusive magic.
I'm not sure how doable that is. But I want to try. Perhaps I'll start with some flash fiction or short fiction and work my way up.