From the time I started thinking seriously about the American Fairy books, I was sure Callie and Jack were going to end up in Chicago. It was, in fact, one of the first things I knew about their story.
Fairies and magic have always been linked to beauty, creativity and glamor. For a story set in the 1930s, it was easy to take this and run with it so that the Seelie Court — the bright, beautiful, literally glamourous fairy — would gather in and around Hollywood. Once I realized that the focus for the Unseelie was going to be jazz — wilder, dangerous, villified, any yet profoundly powerful, that made New York city, a natural base of operations for them (yes, jazz has its origins New Orleans, and strong roots in Kansas City and St. Louis, among other places. Jazz comes at you from all directions).
That made Chicago the middle ground. A strong city with its own history, it’s own character and characters, filled to the brim with all the tensions and creativity that make America unique.
The Second City also happens to be my first city. My mother grew up there, my father went to school there. I joke about their mixed marriage — he was a White Sox fan, she was a Cubs fan. I visited my grandparents there, spent hours in the Field Museum, saw the Christmas displays in the Marshall Fields windows and ate Frango mints when that was the only place you could get them. There’s still something about downtown Chicago that feels more comfortable to me than any other city. It’s still the place where the train tracks meet and the music, the blues, is distinct. It’s a place where people come looking for work, looking to profit, looking to hide.
It was the only place I could picture Jack and Callie making their stand.