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April 4th, 2010

Famous Spots and Expectations

I've been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to travel here and there at different times in my life, even out of the country. (And if my dream comes true and I win the lotto someday, I have a ton more I will be going to visit!) The biggest thing that's whacked me over the head when I've gone to some of these places, more specifically the very famous ones, is how due to the media, there's a built in expectation of what the place will be like that doesn't often actually meet with reality.

It's possible this is just me, but I doubt it. As I will endeavor to explain. (I'm bringing all this up as it should be something that as authors or even tourists, we keep in mind when writing about or are thinking going to somewhere - so there's a reason for this madness.) :P

My first encounter with this phenomenon was the first time I went to Japan years and years ago.

Tokyo itself was what I expected. A big modern metropolis with tons or people, trains, posters, buildings. The big surprise there was the little bits of 'old' like small corner shrines, monks, and the like you'd see sprinkled here and there. But overall, I got as expected. Kyoto on the other hand...

From movies, TV specials, and the like, my mind's eye had a certain view of Kyoto. When Kyoto was in movies, etc they tended to only photograph and focus on the old part of the city, the small section kept as it had been back in the samurai era.

And when I first went there I was in literal shock to find the city to be a very modern affair! You actually had to work to find old architecture and the quaint little places I'd always seen before. The old quarter is very small and totally surrounded by the modern everything.

It wasn't to be the last time I went somewhere and was forced to realize things were far from what we're normally shown.

The same thing happened to me on my near miss visit to Las Vegas and the strip. (Convention was in a nearby town not in Las Vegas itself. Got to peek at it as we went around it and later drive through it when my flight was canceled. Leg problem and not able to afford $75 taxi bills kept me from the strip. So close and yet so far!)

Anyway, I digress. Las Vegas mostly looks just like any other city in the US (Except for some giant billboards!).

The strip itself is only a few blocks long and if you walk away from it, it's as if it never was!












The latest one I faced was New Orleans. The big whoop you always hear about is the French Quarter. But it too suffers from the same media blitz and fairy tale making, a lot of other famous places do as well. Yes, what they show you does exist, just not in the proportions they like to show. (It was amazing to see how much the city has recouped from Katrina though!)

So you can go from beautiful and picture perfect to fantasy shattering reality by just going down a different street.







I guess what my point is, don't just believe the media. As both a tourist and an author, make sure to dig a little deeper. Not only can it make your works more true to life (and won't get you laughed at by those who live there), but you might spare yourself a nasty, unexpected surprise. :P

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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