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Behind the Scenes

Sometimes writing feels like a patchwork process, piecing in little bits of real experience to make the fiction more vivid and, well, real. Although Give Up the Ghost is set in an unnamed city, and as far as I know there is no Frazer Collegiate, elements of both settings came from places in my life. To name a few...

The Lake

I swayed from side to side, bumping against the other swings. The lake was behind me, out of sight, but I could hear it. The waves rose and fell against the sand like the breath of a person sleeping.

The lake where Paige drowned, in my head, looks pretty much like Lake Ontario. There isn't any fishing hut or splintery dock on Kew Beach in Toronto, but there is a bunch of parkland, a playground, a bike path, and a parking lot, just as there are at Cass's lake in the book (though they're not in exactly the same places relative to each other).

Toronto park by the beach
Parkland and playground with the beach and lake beyond.

Toronto beach
The beach and one of the lake's bays.

The Gym Hallway

I had to postpone my usual check-in with Bitzy until lunch. Coming down the hall toward the gym, I heard her mumbling before I saw her.

For the most part, Frazer doesn't have a whole lot in common with my high school, Riverdale. But the hallway outside the gym, where Cass talks with her ghostly friend Bitzy, which leads to the cafeteria, was taken pretty much straight from there. I don't remember if there was actually a payphone there or if I just made that up, and I never counted the exact number of steps to the cafeteria doors, but this is basically it:

Riverdale gym hallway
(Taken from the Riverdale website; those are the doors to the cafeteria down at the end)

The Cafeteria

I wove around the clumps of chairs, deeper into the cafeteria.   The ceiling was so low a pro basketball player would have had to hunch, and it made the whole place look dark even with the fluorescent panels overhead.   At one of the side pillars, I paused, considering the best approach.

The ceiling of the Riverdale cafeteria wasn't that low, but it always did feel kind of dark in there, and there were indeed pillars with tables around them. There was no special system to who sat at them, though.

Riverdale cafeteria
(taken from the Riverdale website)

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