In late July, I spent a couple of hours wandering around the Kings Cross area in an attempt to fix a sense of place for the novel. In the current draft, I'm struggling to make the environment feel authentic.
I realised that my problem is the disconnect between my clear memories of the place twenty years ago and how it presents itself now. The seedy, dangerous and raw Kings Cross has been swept away by the forces of gentrification and intense urban development. I'm not complaining. The place is a better human environment now, but part of me misses the edge and menace of the past. I saw no prostitutes, no crack dealers, no drunken fights. It was all serene, calm and corporate.
I walked along the canal and took a few photos and started to chat to a lady walking her dog. She was delighted with the changes to the area and told me her sons, who both live abroad, didn't recognise the place now. She explained that her eldest son was now thirty six, lived in New Zealand and when he came home he had been stunned by the changes.
'I can't believe this, Mum. I used to go down the station twenty years ago and cause mayhem with my mates. You couldn't do that now. It's all too clean and posh.'
It felt good to know that I wasn't the only one who was feeling a little disorientated.