When I first started writing This Is Shyness, my intention was to present a dark suburb that could be located in any one of many large cities around the world. But as soon as my book was published and readers started talking to me about it, I realised that I hadn’t been quite so clever.
I’m a fairly visual sort of writer – I use a lot of photographs, either taken or found – and have to know exactly how something or someone looks before I can safely describe it/them. Similarly I had to create the visual and geographic terrain of Shyness before I could set events there.
There were several nighttime bike rides around Melbourne taking pics to inspire. The one below is not a good photo in technical terms, but it’s one of my favourites. The sight of a stroller in a skip outside a terrace house evoked perfectly the feeling I wanted my suburb to have.
I do have an actual (terrible) handdrawn map of Shyness and adjoining Panwood that I had to construct to know where all my locations were in relation to one another. It’s in a box somewhere, and once I find it, I’ll be sure to add it to this post.
Despite trying to create an anonymous `global’ city, in reality what I created in Shyness was a collage of inner-Melbourne locations, twisted and skewed and exaggerated. So I’ve made a map of these locations, in case anyone who has read This Is Shyness and/or Queen of the Night would like to see where I have based some of the events of the books. I hope you enjoy it. I suspect I’ll keep adding to the map, as I remember the origins of certain places.
View This Is Shyness in a larger map