The architect who is the protagonist of my novel-in-progress, Archer Landis, has lived in my head so long, I had to scour my brain to remember why he designs buildings rather than runs railroads, manages a department store empire, or fixes teeth.
My parents were Frank Lloyd Wright devotees, read his books (I still have them), and in the 1950s, when they wanted to build a house, they wrote to the great man. The size of their budget undoubtedly stopped that conversation before it got started, but he wrote them a nice letter. So my dad designed our house himself along Wrightean principles. Small by today’s standards. Small then.
In college I lurked around the studios in the architecture school, using an empty drawing board for my own graphics work, fascinated by the students’ model buildings and the smell of sharpened pencils, rubber cement, clay. A scene in the novel has Landis ruminating on that kind of by-hand work versus today’s 3-D printing.
At a more symbolic level, Landis is confronted with people who are his opposites. He wants to build; they want to destroy. Their destructiveness affects him directly, both personally and professionally, and threatens his family, his business, his life.
As this book developed, the things he notices, his relationships, nearly everything he does goes back to the touchstone of his calling. Straightedges and French curves and stone samples. He could no more be a railroad exec, a retailer, or a dentist than he could be an emissary from Alpha Centauri.
Photo of woman writing: Nick Kenrick, creative commons license