I ran across a blog entry the other day which seemed to take issue with my series The Knights of Breton Court. First off, here’s the book description (from the Angry Robot website): On the streets of Indianapolis, the ancient Arthurian cycle is replaying in the lives of rival street gangs. Told through the eyes of King, as he gathers like-minded friends and warriors around him to venture into the fastness of Dred, the notorious crime lord, this is a stunning mix of myth and harsh reality. A truly remarkable novel.
I understand this book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, after all, what’s a few pimps, trolls, drug dealers, elementals, homeless teenagers, and the occasional dragon between friends? However, that was the element of disbelief said blog writer couldn’t suspend. His issue was the setting. Indianapolis, specifically selling Indianapolis to British readers.
When it comes to American cities, Indianapolis is nothing special. My apologies to the Hoosiers but it’s true. It may be the 14th biggest US city but in terms of defining characteristics or geography or culture, there isn’t a lot to talk about.
(It’s a great blog, btw. The author goes on to do an informal survey asking people what their impressions of various big cities were. Indianapolis is … yellow and average.)
I debated briefly about whether or not the story would fly in Indianapolis. But considering what all inspired the story, it was ultimately a no brainer. And I’ll admit, I’m a lazy researcher. I had to go all of around the corner to find this tag:
(This really was taken around the corner from my house. If you know what you’re looking at, you know exactly which gang sets, or which gangs someone is claiming to be tagging for, are represented)
Now, the Indianapolis I write about is not the Indianapolis of the tourist brochures. I’m not trying to do anything exploitative or take folks slumming, either. One of the theses of the story is that any city has a shadow side. An invisible side to it that most people choose not to see, a whole world which may be playing out right under our noses that we have no idea is going on. Sometimes that world is poverty or homelessness. Sometimes that world is magic. Sometimes that world is filled with monsters. But it’s our world to explore.
Indianapolis is actually a perfect place to set the story. It’s a blank enough canvas that I’m betting even native readers will have their eyes opened by much of the story’s locales. And frankly, be it Indianapolis, The Shire, or Gallifrey, the important isn’t how familiar the world is to us, but how real the author makes it to us. Here’s hoping I made the Indianapolis haunting, real, and terrifying. If not, you at least have a gorgeous cover to enjoy.
EDITED TO ADD: