I'm always on the lookout for great settings. Sometimes I go to a location and instantly realize I want to set a story there. A visit to the San Francisco wave organ became "Secret San Francisco." Other times, my fiction is inspired by an object, such as a hidden avocado in "Dear Squirrel."
My new story, "I Used To," published in Gravel, was a combination of the two. I instantly liked the retro Shell Shop I visited in Morro Bay. What a marvelous location! And they had such interesting little knickknacks made from shells. I was captivated especially by the ships made from shells. I knew I also wanted to include one in the story, so I bought one.
I set my characters loose in the shop, looking at the shells and tchotchkes, and "I Used To" came out.
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Bayou, The Laurel Review, and Sou’wester.
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