I stumbled across a blog post at Alex Carnegie's blog about the "Kowloon Walled City" in Hong Kong, a haunting city that was torn down by Chinese authorities in 1993. If you take a look at the pictures of Kowloon below, I think you'll see just how easily a writer could create a fictional world using these images as inspiration.
Apparently, the Kowloon Walled City (also known as Hak Nam) was built as a Chinese outpost to ward off pirates, and then over time, the small city existed in a location outside of Hong Kong's police district and it was taken over by squatters. The city grew into a rundown residential square with apartments built on top of others, in a tightly knit series of hovels. It became known as a hub for illegal activity and opium dens and poor working families, until authorities tore it down and built a park.
Seeing images of Kowloon got me thinking.
What sorts of real places inspire the stories and the world-building of a novelist? For you, what real places gave you a jumping off point for your novel or short story? Do you post pictures on your computer, or near your regular writing spot to inspire your imagination?
I know for me, there are myriad places that come to mind as I write, but some truly stand out in my mind. Let's begin by looking at Kowloon Walled City, a place that looks like an urban nightmare and the perfect set for a Hong Kong thriller or urban fantasy epic.
What an urban nightmare come to life! Kowloon is a sardine-packed city that stands wonderful and ghastly at the same time. So here are a few other mysterious and beautiful and potentially inspiring places from around the world.
Bora Bora Island - Amazing blue reefs and beaches.
Orkney - North of Scotland there is an archipelago called Orkney (The Orkney Islands), that is comprised of nearly 70 small islands, some of which carry old neolithic sculptures and rock formations some dating back to 6,000 BC.
Racetrack Playa, Death Valley, CA - The home of mysterious running stones, which move periodically leaving tracks behind them. No one has ever seen the stones moves and they move with no human or animal help. It's a mystery (and perhaps a story starter?).
So once again, what real live places inspire your writing?