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When I Was a Boy

May is short story month.

I'm a geek. This shall surprise none of my readership of binary five (lame joke related to Facebook). I love to wander about looking for historical sites and statues and the like, and when I find them - I'm going to admit this - I read the plaques.

Behind parliament, there's the bell from the original Victoria Tower (the tower that topped the original Parliament buildings in Ottawa, before they burned down). It finished tolling out the hour before it fell into the fire - which I think is an awesome piece of trivia. The 1919 fire that destroyed all of parliament except for the library is a fascinating piece of Ottawa's past to me. When I took my first tour of Parliament Hill, I remember thinking there's a story here.

I put in the Parliamentary fire when I wrote "Elsewhen." I also went to speak with a young woman at the NCC about the history of the Grand Trunk station. She was really helpful, and when I told her I was working on a story that used it as a setting, she went above and beyond.

When she asked me what kind of story and I told her it was a for a collection of gay erotica, she only choked a little.

I have high hopes to drop my favorite statue into an Ottawa set tale, too. There's a statue of Galahad in front of Parliament that is a truly moving monument to a very brave act. Similarly, the canal, which turns into the longest skating rink in the world in winter, is probably going to get a visit in a short piece I'm working on right now with a hockey player.

Yes, a hockey player. I can hear you snickering. Don't worry, I'm going to get someone with half a clue about hockey to proof it for me.

There are so many interesting bits of Ottawa. There's poor Colonel By, who had such vision but got treated so poorly. There's architect of the Chateau Laurier - who died on the Titanic before the grand opening. Braddish Billings, who shaped quite an interesting area of the city. There's the greenbelt, and the Mer Bleue Bog. The dam at Hog's Back. The experimental farm.

Every time I go on a walk, I find some new piece of this city that I think would be a lovely drop in a story. History is a wonderful way to give a story a sense of reality - or unreality, depending on where you go with it.

It also helps build characters. I know exactly how old Luc is - my vampire from the triad stories - because of a cannonball stuck in a tree in Quebec City that my husband and I went to go see when we were there on my thirtieth birthday.

It's rare I hear someone bemoan a lack of ideas or inspiration. But if you're ever feeling stuck, I'd happily suggest finding a walking tour book or your city, or hitting up the tourist board for something to do.

There are stories everywhere.

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