Kim interviewed Jeremy Morong about his new book The Legend of Hummel Park a couple weeks ago. Given that she took a week off our list, I thought I should do the same so I didn’t get too far ahead on the list. In that interview she gave some thoughts how settings influence stories. That got me thinking, what about the flip side? Settings certainly influence stories…but the reverse is also true.
Consider the Stanley Hotel:
I’ve been there. I wasn’t staying at the hotel, so why do you think I visited? I think you know:
I had to look at the place, feel the eeriness of it, peek around.
But…it only felt that way because of King’s story. Sure, people claimed that the Stanley was haunted before King made the story, but the attention came after. For a rumored haunting, it’s certainly nothing like King’s story. It feels like an incredibly eerie place…but only after King.
The Shining has permanently altered how I and many people perceive the Stanley. Sitting in the bar, I kept looking around for Jack Torrance. An awesome horror writer retreat is regularly held there. Heck, the Stanley has even put in a hedge maze to be more like the story.
The setting of the Stanley may have influenced King’s story, but I think it’s pretty obvious that King’s story has had even more influence on the setting itself. How people see it, how it sees itself, how it tries to get people to see it, and so on. Stories aren’t separate from the world. They are influenced by it, and they influence it right back. Stories are a conversation with the world, an interaction.
At least, the ones I like are.
I’m sure this is completely obvious to everyone (particularly since the stories about Hummel Park we talked about previously influence the park as much as the park has influenced the stories created involving it). However, I thought it was worth bringing up given what we’ve already said on here about setting influencing stories. Like most anything, that doesn’t just go one direction.