I'm going to admit it right here-- I am, by nature, a stalker. Lighted windows, snatches of overheard conversation, fill me with joy. They are openings into other worlds, and imagination can spin a web from one detail to another and give that world a life. The sight of a hunched figure heading up an alley on a cold winter night, turning a key in its lock...raises a thousand seductive questions, including: What kind of wallpaper is peeling in the stairwell?
I grew up at the end of a long dirt road -- there was a farm, a blacksmith shop, and our house. Almost no one to stalk at all. So I had to get my satisfaction from reading. This led me to a degree in English and finally to writing fiction. I did want to follow in the footsteps of George Eliot and Jane Austen, but only because those steps led to the bedchambers of their characters.
Writing fiction led me to Provincetown, a stalker's paradise. One street, so no one escapes notice. Houses so closely crowded that they have to take advantage of every inch-- meaning there are windows in every odd corner. Walk down the wharf at night and you'll see men washing the decks of their fishing boats on the east side while liveried waiters serve dinner to yacht dwellers on the west. People have been taking in boarders here since the lamps in those windows held whale oil. And every boarder has a story...
I'm feeling dizzy, must get a grip! Civilization has crimped my natural tendencies and I don't actually let myself into strangers' houses at night so as to taste the leftovers in the refrigerator and see what they keep in their top drawers. But I will always be grateful to live in a place that suggests so very many possibilities to a fevered imagination.