Sheltering in place for a year caused people to do a lot of things. Some people bought Pelotons. I bought a deep fryer and made corn dogs. Some people took long walks and used the time to reconnect with their family. I locked myself in my office and wrote a book. And as the rejections started rolling in, I did what everyone does in the low moments: I made a miniature mental institution.
This is the version of how the Wilder Sanctuary looks in my head, complete with platitude posters, Hope’s journal, ViCTR, and a tiny Sega Genesis I made out of plasticine. I kept this mini Wilder near my desk while I was doing revisions, and it always made me smile.
For you purists out there, this is not to scale. The pills, for instance, are the size of a small puppy.
The first drafts of The Mechanics of Memory had song quotes at the beginning of each chapter. (And then I discovered a little thing called copyright and removed them.) I am also a voracious audiobook listener and often thought how cool it would be if audiobooks played songs in between the chapters. But again, copyrights and all that. So Hope’s playlist is the next best thing: a musical accompaniment to the book, reflecting what Hope, Luke, and Carter were feeling and might have been listening to throughout the book.
My son will attest to the fact that my musical exploration flat-lined somewhere around the early 2000s. And by extension, my characters were forced into the same predicament.