Taking Alexandria literally

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In a city where everyone is from somewhere else a gross, though not entirely inaccurate, generalization there is something about Alexandria that would inspire any author. 
    
Just ask them. 
    
To me the things that do lend [Alexandria] to literary treatment are these layers, said Andrew Wingfield, author of Right of Way. Its a city that, in addition to being close to D.C, is also a Virginia city and it has this connection to the South with its own Civil War history and it has its own racial dynamics a history of segregation that connects it to the South. All of that is potentially rich fodder for somebody who is exploring literary [objectives].
    
Wingfield recently published a collection of short stories set in a neighborhood very much based on the gentrifying Del Ray he calls home. There was something about the clash of the new and the old that Wingfield found inspiring.  
    
I knew I was pretty familiar with the perspective of people like me who had arrived in the late 90s, starting families and buying run-down properties and putting a lot of money into fixing them up and being part of the buzz of this renaissance of this neighborhood, he said. 
    
For Abe Dawson, author of the new novel Acedia, there was a certain amount of hometown pride. A lifelong Alexandrian, hes seen friends leave the city, but always return. 
    
I grew up here and it was definitely my home town and I think theres more loyalty to this area than in a lot of other areas across the country, Dawson said. Thats why I wanted to focus on Alexandria in particular. Its the magnet of Alexandria.
    
While Wingfield uses terse prose to examine the ebb and flow of a few city blocks, Dawson crafts a wild, adventurous romp with Alexandria as the backdrop. Both note the citys unique identity and history as key to what makes Alexandria a tantalizing launch pad for fiction. 
    
Theyre not alone. City resident Arin Greenwood kicked off her writing career with Tropical Depression, the story of a tightly wound New York lawyers unsuccessful attempt to drop off the map on a remote island. 
    
In the realm of non-fiction, Fairfax Street homeowner Liz Seccuro released an account of her rape in college and her subsequent recovery in a part thriller, part memoir mix in January. Local reporter Michael Lee Pope turned his love of local lore into the Ghosts of Alexandria. 
    
In a similar vein, local real estate agent Barbara Cousens, a South African by birth, recounted her journey to Alexandria a decade ago in last years My Alexandria Tales. 
    
When she arrived on the East Coast, Cousens found a city charged with creative energy. 
    
The juxtaposition of a very powerful modern capital with an old town is immediately interesting visually, she said. Here you have a really marked change of seasons and being on the water theres a lot of creative energy around, its palpable. You can really feel it in a city like this.
    
She never intended to pen a book, but there was inspiration everywhere in Alexandria. 
    
It really is a very beautiful place to be and I think thats what gets creative people, Cousens said. Its really conducive to a good way of life. 
    
Wingfield and Dawson are working on sequels, both set in the metropolitan area. Wingfield didnt plan on resurrecting the Cleave Springs neighborhood, but he wont rule out a return for some of the Del Ray-esque characters. 
    
You sort of develop a relationship there and theres something comforting about going back because I know the lay of the land in person and what I made of it in fiction, he said.

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