De Lint’s Newford Stories

Dreams Underfoot
Dreams Underfoot by Charles De Lint

I came across an interview with Charles De Lint in which he describes how the setting of his Newford Stories came to be. Since it has similarity to the setting of Braided Dimensions, I want to share it here. He wrote:

Welcome to Newford…to the music clubs, the waterfront, the alleyways where ancient myths and magic spill into the modern world.

“This might sound odd, coming from a fantasy author, but I don’t really like to write about a place I haven’t physically been to myself… Much of what I write about requires a root in the real world … so my hometown of Ottawa became the setting of much of my work by default as much as from my love of the place. Now, Ottawa is an interesting and lively city—a particularly interesting mix of government town and alternative lifestyles, urban blight and natural beauty, street life and wildlife—but it doesn’t always have the right elements for certain stories I want to tell. But since I hadn’t lived long enough in another large urban centre, I wasn’t comfortable setting a story in someplace like the Bronx, or East LA, or London, England. Still, I had stories that wanted to be set in places like that. One day, when I was asked to contribute a story to the Post Mortum anthology, I decided to set it in an unnamed big city. This way, while I could get the “feel” of the place from having visited many such cities over the years, I wouldn’t be tied down to figuring out the details of which way a street went, what store was on what corner, that sort of thing… I gave the place a name, started a map to keep locations straight, started a concordance to keep track of things…and never quite kept up with any of it.”

In Braided Dimensions, Kay lives in a small northern California coastal town but I took the name of a small bluff near the town since I don’t care for the political history of the town’s actual name. I gave it the Native American name, as I did for a town close by where she searches for fabric and ends up buying a loom. There is a much larger community garden than actually exists in the town where I based the story. There are some other creative licenses I took which then allow both the sense of a concrete place with real smells and sounds and a magical edge that parts, allowing the unlikely to seep in.

De Lint’s Newford stories have fueled my imagination, not in literal ways so much as feeling ways.

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