It is no secret that I enjoyed the heck out of IMMORTAL HOUSE by Elizabeth Guizzetti. The novella did win my Jennifer Award for September. Now, Beth tells us where she got the inspiration for her book.
I love horror movies and vampire films are some of my favorite. It isn’t surprising, I was a teenager in the 1990’s and vampires were huge. (Also they didn’t sparkle, but that’s another story.)
The idea for my novella, Immortal House, was first generated when I was rewatching Tale of a Vampire, 1992 starring Julian Sands. I noticed he lived in this great old loft, what looked like it might have once been an abandoned factory. I started thinking about one of my favorite cop shows, Forever Knight. The title character also has an expansive urban loft. In fact, many vampire stories begin with a vampire buying a house or land such as Dracula, 1931, 1992, (so many remakes it’s impossible to list them all) Salem’s Lot, 1979 or Fright Night (1982/ Remake 2011). Even in legend, vampires have a distinct connection with real estate—they carry their earth.
However, many of the older buildings in Seattle—the type of places vampires are often shown to like—are being torn down. Many blame gentrification due to the tech industry. While gentrification is a real issue, destroying architectural history is not a new problem for Seattle.
Though Immortal House is a comedy, here’s a very brief, not funny, architectural history of Seattle.
Settlers from Europe took what is now the city of Seattle from the Duwamish people who lived in the area since the end of the last ice age. While some came as friendly neighbors or traders, many disregarded treaties. They burned the Duwamish’s longhouses and passed laws forcing Indigenous Americans out of Seattle. They even refused a reservation to be established near Seattle and exiled the Duwamish to Ballast Island.
Settlers built the earliest buildings from wood as lumber was plentiful. Seattle’s population continued to grow. In 1889, most of this original city burned in the Great Seattle Fire which was caused by an overturned glue falling onto a carpentry shop’s floor. While a few Victorian homes still stand today, much of what counts as “historical” is questionable. Many older residential neighborhoods are filled with Craftsman houses built in 1910-1920 interspersed with mid-century and later housing. Even our cute quaint houseboat community on Lark Union had an early beginning which was destroyed. Houseboats were originally little more than huts on rafts for loggers, trappers and folks who organized unrespectable or illegal activities, however once the logging moved further away from the city, Seattle used zoning laws to get the “riff-raff” out and let the wealthy use the lake for pleasure activities in the 1920’s.
Many large Victorian era buildings were demolished in the middle of the last century in the name of progress. In 1961, the Seattle Hotel was demolished to build a parking lot on the corner of 1st and Yesler. While it might seem strange that beautiful Victorian architecture was demolished for one of the ugliest two-story parking lots in the city, at that point the Seattle Hotel only had stood for seventy years and had fallen into disrepair. The parking lot sparked a movement to protect Pioneer Square as a historical district. However, plenty of other buildings were demolished: The Metropolitan Theatre was torn down in 1956, the Haller Building in 1957, and Ballard City Hall in 1965 just to name a few. All this was to make way for modern progress.
In the past twenty years Seattle’s population has grown from 536,000 in 1998 to over 750,000 in 2016. With a growing population and limited land, Seattle is becoming denser. Developers are buying up old houses with large lots and dividing the land so they can build several modern three-story rowhouses. In areas, where there were once grocery stores with open parking lots, mixed-use towers have sprouted up. The closer the neighborhood is to the downtown core, the higher the buildings are built. In Capitol Hill and South Lake Union, developers sometimes try to save old façades by topping them with modern architecture, but these have a top-heavy awkwardness about them. In the Central District, there is an apartment building topped with a Wonder Bread sign, as a nod to when the land was a factory.
My goal was to be brief and I know I missed a lot, but Seattle is no more innocent than any other American city. I encourage you to understand the history of where you call home. Some of it will make you proud, some will make you mortified.
For its faults, Seattle is the city which my husband and I call home. We’re attached to the city, culture, and people. My husband and I chose to live in a 640 square-foot condo in a midrise tower so we can afford an urban lifestyle. Our condo is small, but it’s in walkable distance to parks, stores, coffee houses. Assuming it doesn’t fall down in an earthquake or I sell a million books and can afford a bigger place in the city, we’ll live here comfortably.
When I wrote Immortal House, I thought of two important questions: why are vampires so connected to their homes? And what would an average, every day, middle class vampire do when faced with the reality of life in Seattle 2018? Laurence is searching for a house he would love forever: an Immortal House.
Much to her chagrin, Elizabeth Guizzetti discovered she was not a cyborg and growing up to be an otter would be impractical, so began writing stories at age twelve.
Three decades later, Guizzetti is an illustrator and author best known for her demon-poodle based comedy, Out for Souls & Cookies. She is also the creator of Faminelands and Lure and collaborated with authors on several projects including A is for Apex and The Prince of Artemis V.
To explore a different aspect of her creativity, she writes science fiction and fantasy. Her debut novel, Other Systems, was a 2015 Finalist for the Canopus Award for excellence in Interstellar Fiction. Her short work has appeared in anthologies such as Wee Folk and The Wise and Beyond the Hedge. Between long projects, she works on a ten-part novella series, The Chronicles of the Martlet, following the life of an elfin assassin turned necromancer just for funsies. Immortal House is her seventh written book.
Guizzetti lives in Seattle with her husband and two dogs. When not writing or illustrating, she loves hiking and birdwatching.
To find out more about her work
Immortal House is available from most bookstores, but below are a few links:
BARNES & NOBLE
ELLIOT BAY BOOK CO.
LIBERTY BAY BOOKS
QUEEN ANNE BOOK COMPANY
THIRD PLACE BOOKS