I started reading the Sandman comics after visiting a very clever and mentor-worthy college friend who had gone on to grad school. His new girlfriend, complete with black tank-top and ankh necklace, had shown him the Midsummer one, which he then showed to me. Which I then went completely looney over.
This was my introduction to urban fantasy, and to the very idea what someone who nerds out about mythology can write something modern and awesome. I went all in, spending any spare change I could find on trade paperbacks. And T-shirts with Vess and Zulli art.
Years later, I read American Gods. The most important moment in this book for me seems a little small, almost throw-away: the plastic-on-the-windows part, in which the main character is instructed on how to winter-proof a place.
Just like I do every year.
This is nothing. This is a quirk of setting.
But for me, this is evidence that stuff I do in my regular life is foreign, almost exotic, to somebody else. Normal life doesn’t exist, or is at best an illusion (why do sitcom living rooms have staircases, anyway?) and mundane, quotidian acts of simply living can be as fascinating as the most intricate world-building to someone who doesn’t live that way.
This one detail choice, reflected upon long after I read it, prompted me to take my writing somewhere new: back home. There are people out there who have no idea what is was like to replace the needle on a record player. To write a program in BASIC. To go to a New Hampshire park. To sit at a Ms. Pac-Man table.
And maybe they’d be interested to know.