“All around me are familiar faces, worn-out places, worn-out faces…”
After reading my novel, XXII, I’m sure some of you may have caught the tongue-in-cheek reference that “San Palemo” was actually a play on my hometown, San Pedro.
So in today’s post, I’d like to take y’all on a virtual tour of the town that I grew up in, the town that built me and bruised me and shaped me.
The town where everyone literally knows your name and where the shit-talkers thrive, the homeless roam like lost cattle, and children often find needles in the sand of their playgrounds and beaches.
The town that, in a loose sense, played a role in shaping Mads, both physically, in developing her personality and her reactions to her surroundings, and as a symbol for her past.
WARNING: There will be spoilers ahead, but by now, y’all should have read my story anyways…*hint hint*
- THE CLUB: Ah, “The Club”. You see, the club truly was this old, shoddy, run-down but lovable banquet-hall that I used to work at in my early twenties. From drunken quinceaneras to batshit, crazy brides, and everything in between, I have enough stories just from working there that could fill a whole other book itself. However, since writing the book, they have fancied it up a bit and it looks better on the inside…but, yeah. That’s it! Basically, in the book, it looks quite similar, save for me adding the graffiti to the front of it. Also, it was rumored that I, Lo Valenza, may or may not have snuck a drink or two on the roof as well as Mads. Except Mads owns it. I would just try not to get caught. #weenie
- THE JOINT: Ah, “The Joint”, or, The Spot, as it is in Pedro…it has a very acquired taste, but I love it. It’s grungy, it’s wild and loud and dirty; there’s persistent bums bumming cigarettes from old sailors who eyes have been bleached by the sea. There’s always a fight and a hot dog stand that stands proudly outside. There’s always so much material here and inspiration for me to use…it almost isn’t fair. So naturally, Mads would be attracted to this place because a.) there’s access to drugs and sex (duh), and b.) she wouldn’t feel like she was the only outcast in the room. It’s dark in there, just how she likes it.
- OCEANO: I have had the pleasure of dining and drinking at my town’s “Oceano” — Terranea Resort and Spa located riiiiight along the edge of the cliff, hugging the Pacific Ocean and giving us Instagram-worthy snaps of the sunset almost every night–but hopefully your sunset won’t be ruined by a girl getting high and running late and hating everyone in that Prius except for Hunter, if ya catch my drift! Honestly, it’s a real treat to go there for me. I don’t like spending money, especially on food and booze, but the occasional night out never hurts.
- THE CLIFFS: This was a bit tough for me–not just as a writer but as someone who is very visual and very desciptive. Nothing truly “fits” where Mads decides to go down into the ocean. I thought about having her enter from multiple points to falling in, etc., etc., etc., but I couldn’t. In the end, I had just manipulated what I thought would be the best point of entry based on where I’ve explored along the cliffs and the ocean and what she could logically do without dying on the way down. These scenes were intense to write, obviously, but setting them against the raging wind and the icy azure of waves made it even more whole and made it seem as if Palemo was actually a character in and of itself.
- TALLY’S: Clearly, this was all-too fun for me to write. I literally get the worst anxiety walking into Ross, so I try to never go there on purpose. If I’m shopping at Petco for my Synyster or shopping at the CVS down the ways, then maybeeee I’ll mosey in and just take some sweet time to dissect purse from shoe from athleticwear to candles and home goods and children running and hiding in the clothing racks and all that jazz.
- PALEMO’S BEST: Now, this one was more of a stretch because this sandwich shop is not only my absolute favorite in town, but it’s actually about fifteen minutes away from where I placed it in the novel! Busy Bee Market over on 25th is hands-down the chillest spot to get a huge sandwich. Like, the guilt and the calories are real, yo! But on those cheat days when salami and cheese and almonds just won’t cut it anymore, you can occasionally find me hustling over there to get a turkey and avocado sandwich. And then you’ll be full for dayyyssss.
!!! BONUS LOCATION !!!
- TIFTON, GEORGIA: Now, y’all, I’ve never been to Tifton in my entire life. I’ve never even been to Georgia or anywhere southern and warm, but on deciding where Hunter was to be from, I knew with passion that he had to be a southern gent, strong and true and able to handle Mads. So I hopped on Google and legit typed in “small towns in Georgia” and Tifton was right there towards the top. So step one, complete. Then, I had to make sure that the aesthetic and the houses where what I had in mind for Hunter to live in. I Googled “high-income housing in Tifton, Georgia” and BAM, step two, complete. And then of course I had to fact-check that corn and onions were crops that could realistically grown in Tifton in July, which they did, so step three, doneee. It’s all about due-diligence, a little magic and imagination, and a tenacity to deliver to y’all a sensory and detailed picture of where the story comes to it’s ending–well, for now! 😉 #XXIII
I mean, c’mon…who couldn’t see Hunter’s blended Italian-American family living here and loving having guests and family over to entertain and cook for. Can’t you just see Isabelle in the kitchen, fussing at Mads to eat something, or Hunter and her sitting on navy-blue couches under a high-vaulted ceiling? Or even Mads taking a drag on Quinn’s third-story patio, over-looking the cornfield? I can.
And there we have it, folks! I hope y’all enjoyed a little tour of Mads’ town and even Hunter’s home in Georgia. And if you’ve made it this far, you’re obviously TOTES STOKED to find out what the surprise is…
XXII WILL BE FREE FROM TOMORROW UNTIL MONDAY, LOVES!!!
Yes, you heard that right! The KINDLE-VERSION of my book will be free from Friday, April 14th to Monday, April 17th!!!
So get out there and spread the noise!!! I want y’all to read my novel and fall in love with it as much as I love it!!! Have a ball, snag your copy today, and all I meagerly ask in return is a sweeeeeet review on Amazon!!! Totes optional, but I’d love ya forever. Actually, I’d love ya as much as Ricky and Lucy like pancakes and bacon under the dining room table. And if you have no idea what that means, THEN GET YOUR COPY AND START READING TOMORROW, YOU LOVELY HUMAN!
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