Writers love creating their own cities. Some of the most fantastic places only exist within the pages of books, films, comics, and even the lyrics of songs. I’ll pop in a CD when I need to write a romantic scene or a sad one. You can’t buy a plane ticket to any of these cities. You can’t drive there in your car. You can only catch glimpses by watching your favorite show, or reading your favorite novel. Some of these fictional places are so well described you forget they aren’t real. Others leave it to your imagination to fill in. And as cool as some of these places may be, your computer’s monitor is about as close you want to get. Whatever the case, they all leave their mark on those of us who wander their streets, peek through their windows, or enter their house.
Cabot Cove, Maine, is a small fictional fishing village where Jessica Fletcher lives in the television series Murder She Wrote. However, the charming Victorian house behind a white picket fence where she supposedly lives was filmed in Mendocino, California. I was bold enough to walk up and knock on the door but no one came to let me in, even though a sign on the door said it was a B&B.
Another favorite fictional town is Genovia, the European country from novels and film adaptations, where the Princess Diaries was filmed. In the movies, Genovia is located between France and Spain, where Mia’s grandmother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi, rules a full monarchy. In the book, Genovia is located between France and Italy.
Emerald City of Oz was the first taste many of us got of disillusionment. The Oz books describe Emerald City as being built of green glass, emeralds, and other jewels. Tall, green and glittering when viewed from afar, up close it’s no more green than any other city. Built by the wizard when he first arrived in Oz, Emerald City is as flawed as its creator: an impressive screen hiding a disappointing truth. Nonetheless, when it first appears on the horizon (at the head of the winding yellow brick road), it’s hard not to get caught up in the magic. Just like the film itself, the illusion remains so long as you’re willing to believe—go looking for the way it all works and it becomes just so much dust. The Emerald City of Oz, where people go expecting their dreams to be fulfilled, ends up with superficial substitutes and broken dreams. Still, I love the books that are so memorable to this day.