1. Liss's Highschool: Gladstone.
I'd looked at pictures of Gladstone High on the internet, and drove myself up and down the street on Google Street View, but it didn't hold a candle to my experience in the school.
When I walked into the front entrance, I shuddered. I felt like I was walking into my own personal Disneyland, stepping foot into the place I'd been writing about for the last nine months. I had to stop for a moment and take a few deep breaths because I was so excited (getting all the way to Vancouver with two young children just doesn't happen--this particular day was a first for them).
For anyone who doesn't know, Gladstone is a very old school. Sixty years, approximately. And it was important for me to represent this school in my novel with as much authenticity as possible. Today, thanks to the wonderful staff and friendly students I connected with, I found exactly what I needed to do that. To put it simply: You guys rock. :)
I found the office, and a very nice secretary greeted me. When I told her I was writing a book that involved scenes at the school, I think I caught her off guard (it's not everyday a person just walks into a school, unannounced, and wants to snap some photos). However, the secretary then introduced me to Vice Principal Doris, who welcomed me and gave me my golden (pink) ticket to venture around. I left the office, two kidlets in tow, and began my journey around the school. It is certainly old, but I've never seen so much character and life within a building. Not only are the students totally over-the-top friendly, but, as a stranger, I was made to feel completely at home.
The artwork on the lockers, (fashioned by the Grad students, as I was told by a lovely group of young girls sitting in the hall) are really unbeleivable. There are M&M's, Monster's Inc., super heros and much more. Even better, are the gift-wrapped lockers; when it's your birthday, you get your locker decorated, and everyone writes a special well-wish just for you that week. It's a Gladstone tradition, and I definitely plan on including that, as Liss celebrates her birthday during this first novel.
I then visited the cafeteria, the gym, the outdoor fields, the science labs, and poked my head around many open doors that always had a few smiling faces inside.
How would I ever have known such details, had I not visited? It's little things like these that make a school like Gladstone really special. I had hoped to get some better photos of the hallways, but I did promise VP Doris that I wouldn't take pictures of the students; however, just visiting and talking with the students about their experience has made a world of difference to me and my novel.
Thanks Gladstone, for making me feel so welcome. I truly hope my representation in Beneath the Surface doesn't disappoint--and I sincerely apologize to all the Chemistry students that I disturbed when my son had a temper tantrum in the hallway--he only does that at the most inopportune times!!
PS. For those who asked me why I chose Gladstone, I told you that it was because of it's relative (close) distance to John Hendry Park. However, now, I think that it was the other way around : Gladstone chose me. This school couldn't have been a more perfect fit for my story, and I don't want to take credit for any decisions that are just destined to be.
Here are a few photos...
Just up the street, lies the very place where Liss voluntarily goes below for the first time. For anyone who hasn't been there, it is a very large park that surrounds Trout Lake. The most significant place, in particular, is the children's playground. Liss sits on the swing-set, reminiscing, when Rion taps her on the shoulder. This scene happens in the almost darkness, but it was very easy for me to imagine that, and I had to laugh to myself when I sat down on one of them for a brief moment (my kids were begging me to get off so they could have their turn). I was a little star-struck.
The undercover area where Rion takes Liss below is just next to the playground, and I stood on the actual spot where it happened. Unfortunately, I couldn't snap too many photos, because there were so many children at the park, and I wouldn't want someone taking pictures of my children without my permission, so these are only from a distance--but you'll get the gist of it :)
At first, it had strictly to do with what was available for photos of Vancouver parks on the internet, but I found this to be the most family friendly; and versatility was what I was looking for in a park in the Lower Mainland. I needed something that I could draw a lot of scenes from (including the children's playground where Liss remembers a happy time in her life)--especially one with a body of water.
Now, just as I said about Gladstone, I believe this park chose me.
I hope you enjoy this tid-bit. As you can see, I'm quite a visual person :)
Have a great weekend everyone. And smile, because the sun is finally shining in Vancouver.