Stunning visualization of “Acid Asset” opening scene
Describing a place without ever having been there — some of my favorite authors were masters at it. Take “The Day of Creation” by J.G. Ballard; a stunning description of the African landscape. But Ballard said, when asked about this novel, that he had never been to the Central African Republic, where his novel took place more or less.
I believe in that traveling of the mind. This makes sense in particular when the location is no longer accessible — like the Iron Curtain across Europe before the end of communism in 1989. My 4th Radio Detective novel, “Acid Asset”, opens with an explosive exchange of spies between the USSR and the west in a remote location of Germany in the 1980s. What I could bring to the paper was the feeling of desolation and the inhumanity of the Iron Curtain, its broad terrain, its barbed wires and watchtowers. Growing up in the era of the Cold War, I know the images and I know the stories.
And then, a surprise! I stumbled upon this Youtube video today, that gives you a spectacularly detailed view of both the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. It’s a digital film, but done extremely well. Even for someone like me, who has read a lot about the weird walls of communism, it was a very convincing ten minute reel. The second half of the film is dedicated to the Iron Curtain and its mapping of the landscape — the fences, the towers, the land mines — is exactly the way I imagined my opening scene. I don’t think the little village in the film suits my first chapter, but other than that…