I have a confession to make. I have a soft spot–okay, an obsession–with motels. They appear in a lot of my work. In fact, a creepy little motel features quite prominently in my very first published short story, “Vacancy” (2002, THE EDGE). Room Eight hides terrible secrets in my novella, ASH AND BONE (2014, published by DarkFuse). To me, a motel or room can be an important and interesting character in and of itself.
Why is this?
Because, unlike with antiseptic, corporate, cookie-cutter hotels, motels make me fantasize about what has transpired within the walls of their rooms. It’s like Tom Waits says in his song, “Ninth and Hennepin”:
And all the rooms they smell like diesel
And you take on the dreams of the ones who have slept here
And i’m lost in the window, and i hide in the stairway
And i hang in the curtain, and i sleep in your hat…
Who’s been there before me? What was going on in their life? What journey were they on, to wind up at that place? Beat-up or tidy, small old motels have that sort of character, a sort of mysterious history within their walls. That’s why I love road trips–a chance to discover new motels and dream up new plots.
Abandoned motels are even better! Or abandoned farmhouses…