My daughter asked if I planned to include a map for my urban fantasy novella, The Monsters of Chavez Ravine.
The answer was no. But as soon as she said it, I thought it would be a good idea. While the characters and plot are fiction, the setting is real. Or it was before the bulldozers arrived and knocked everything down. And it would be nice to show readers how the three old neighborhoods of Palo Verde, Bishop and La Loma stood in relation to each other, as the characters often walk, and sometimes run, between the hilly villages. (To learn more about Chavez Ravine, click here.)
I had a general idea of how the neighborhoods were situated in Chavez Ravine, but most of the maps I came across all lacked something that made them a bit difficult to understand at a casual glance.
What the book needed was a simple, yet stylish map, like those often seen in fantasy and science fiction novels.
This artistic endeavor was way beyond my skills, so I turned to someone I discovered in the writing community on Twitter, a talented young British fantasy writer and illustrator by the name of Dewi Hargreaves.
This map needed a few anchor points, so Elysian Park and the neighborhood of Solano are included. Both exist today in Los Angeles. Solano once bordered the old Chavez Ravine neighborhoods. Also included are the Arroyo Seco Parkway, now called the Pasadena Freeway, and North Broadway.
We added a few features, too. One existed: the shacks belonging to Los Viejitos. Old gringo bachelors once occupied the tiny, rustic rental cabins. A couple of key scenes play out there, one involving a favorite minor character, the impetuous Pete Chevira, so on the map it went.
While there were wells around Chavez Ravine (in fact, I have a picture of my mother and uncle posing next to one), the well shown in La Loma was placed there at my direction. It’s also there for a reason, but that would involve a spoiler, so I’ll move on to the next feature: Duran Market & Liquor in Palo Verde. This is a fictional store owned by our heroine’s father, Salvio Duran. The store that twenty-two-year-old Trini takes over after her father is attacked under mysterious circumstances.
Several stores existed in Chavez Ravine, like the Ayala store pictured in chavezravine.org. Both markets, Duran Market & Liquor, and the one belonging to the character Henry Loya in Boyle Heights are fictitious.
This leads me to the last bit about the map.
Images get scraped and end up on the internet, often without context. The last thing I wanted was for this map—a mixture of fact and fiction—to end up online for people to discover and use, believing it was an actual representation of Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop. So, at the bottom, you will see, “The Monsters of Chavez Ravine.”
Hopefully, the mention of monsters will throw up some red flags!
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