My writing is LGBT my prefered genres are horror, paranormal, the occasional crime thriller, and my source of inspiration may surprise those who don’t know me well. The common place vagaries of the neighborhood in which I’ve lived for close to 17 years. I live in what is known as the Historic Shaw Neighborhood named after amateur botanist and philanthropist Henry Shaw who created what is now known as The Missouri Botanical Gardens and the exquisite Tower Grove Park one of the last Victorian walking parks in the world. Within the parks boundaries (289 acres) set in South St. Louis are sources from which I’ve drawn inspiration for years.
On the corner of Tower Grove & Magnolia is the Superintendent’s House surrounded by lush vegetation and sporting a three-story tower that overlooks the park. This house inspired to some extent Evan’s House the haunted site of my first published novel Shadows Beneath (2008) in the fictional town of Baumen Creek, Illinois. Even setting on as busy of an intersection as it is, the house seems surrounded by a bubble, trapped in time, and unaffected by the modern age.
Paint the color of faded sunlight flakes from its brick surface, lights glimmer from its windows, yet you rarely see a living soul on the grounds surrounding it. The yard is bordered by a waist-high cast iron fence tipped with spikes in front, gate perpetually open as if in welcome, posts topped by sculpted pineapples and a brick walkway leading to the front porch.
Standing behind it is the Piper Palm House the oldest standing greenhouse west of the Mississippi River now the destination of many couples every year either for the wedding of their dreams, the reception, or both. To the east is the Concert Pavilion where every Monday during the summer between Memorial and Labor Day a local concert band draws hundreds to set out and listen to a menagerie of music performed beneath the twilight sky. It has hosted a number of outdoor weddings as well.
Just south-west of the Concert Pavilion are the Ruins and exquisite pond and fountain created to appear as Greek ruins. Numerous photographers and artists find their way here not to mention the ducks and Canadian Geese who make it their home. If you turn through the gate where Thurman dead ends into Magnolia at the east end of the park is another circle drive surrounding a grove of towering pines, a mini-forest in its own right filled with numerous species of birds that draw birdwatchers from all over the country.
Numerous paths wind through this exquisite park and every time I wander into its boundaries I discover something new. Everything from the stable cottage on the northwest side where horse and ponies graze on fresh grass to a lone gravestone overlooking the low valley where the stable cottage sits. Some might believe it is a common place park to walk their dog or jog, but for me it whispers in voices that inspire and delight me as few places can.
Just a few nights ago I walked through the shadows listening to the distant sound of traffic, muffled by the trees, and chased the first fireflies of the summer through the shadows back home to my front door beneath a waning moon.