Not long ago I watched video of an Olympic cyclist who crossed the finish line to win a gold medal. As she came within a few hundred meters of her goal, she pushed harder and harder, throwing every fiber of her being into the effort to complete her race. She allowed no distractions, no anxieties, nothing to stand in her way. She reached her goal, then immediately collapsed in a heap. I felt admiration for her, but not kinship.
As I come within the writing equivalent of the finish line, I find myself not pushing, pushing, pushing with the last full measure of strength, but instead looking for ways to avoid those last hard yards to completion. And I am now going to share one of the distractions I discovered with you.
In Dangerous Places, Leah Nash, my main character, has moved into a new loft apartment in downtown Himmel—though that’s not one of the dangerous places. Although I’ve described it in detail in the book, I began to think it might be fun to have a sketch of her new surroundings to include on my website. Because my drawing abilities atrophied somewhere around second grade, I knew that it would not be me converting words to pictures.
Luckily, artist Melanie Lewis agreed to do a couple of illustrations for me. Equally lucky for an introvert like me, Melanie is not only a friend, she’s also a neighbor. My quest required nothing more than a few steps and a one-on-one conversation.
For a few days after that, instead of forging ahead with the conclusion of my mystery novel, I had way too much fun working with Melanie to make my imaginary world seem a little more real. I think she did a great job bringing Leah’s setting to life.
Here is the block in Himmel where Leah now lives. The top floor of the building second from the left is her apartment.
And here is the living room of Leah’s loft apartment.
The drawings are now posted on my web site, under the header Leah’s World. There’s already a map of Himmel and of DeMoss Academy, a primary setting in the first book, Dangerous Habits, posted there.
Although I’d like to spend some time stretched out on Leah’s window seat looking down at the goings on in the town of Himmel below, it really is time to get back up on my metaphorical bicycle and pedal my way to the finish line. Where I will no doubt collapse in a dead faint upon arrival.