When I was beginning to write The Talking Drum, I knew that I wanted the fictional bookstore, where much of the action takes place, to be located in a Victorian home. I love Victorian houses—Italianate and Queen Anne—their tall windows and wraparound porches, pitched rooves, the detailed ornamentation, multiple floors, the ones that are boldly painted with contrasting trim and the more subdued.
I didn’t have to look far to find my architectural model. I thought back on the home I lived in the year I came to Boston in 2003. It was a grand Victorian in the Dorchester section of the city. It was a 5-bedroom house with high ceilings and sweeping staircases. The master bedroom had a sitting room. The backyard was well manicured and landscaped with seasonal flowers and plants.
When my character, Sydney, runs her hand up the bannister of her new home, it is the bannister at the house in Dorchester that inspires me. When bookstore customers gather in the backyard to hear The Fierce Warriors perform, I am using the backyard of my former home. When Sydney sequesters herself in the master bedroom upstairs after a falling out with her husband, Malachi, it is the bedroom that I rented in that home that informs the look of the fictional room.
One of my fantasies it to own a Victorian house. It probably will never happen, but I can at least enjoy ownership of a Victorian and all of the architectural elements that I love vicariously through my characters Sydney and Malachi.