My New Book: A Nod to Vancouver

You’re all familiar with Vancouver, even if you’ve never been there before. If you’ve seen The X-Files, Riverdale, Once Upon a Time, Smallville, The Killing—and dozens of more shows and hundreds of Hollywood movies—you’ve seen Vancouver. And you might have seen me, or at least the back of my head as I got to be an extra in a few productions many years ago.

I was born in Toronto and lived there until I was nine. I did the rest of my growing up in Vancouver and lived there most of my life, until I moved to southern Ontario ten years ago, then Costa Rica three years ago.

Anyone who knows me well is aware of my love-hate relationship with Vancouver. For the longest time, it felt more like a large town than a major city. I was a frustrated young woman who wanted more out life than the lackluster nightlife and depressing social scene it had to offer. Now it’s more like a metropolis of the future with a lot going on. And it’s damn expensive.

When I was choosing a setting for my book, I thought to make it a fictional big city, but once I started writing, I just couldn’t pull it off. Given that my heroine’s central struggle is money, it made sense that she’d be struggling in a place that’s crazy expensive to live in. Since I know Vancouver, why not make it the setting?

If you’re unfamiliar with Vancouver, there are a few things you should know about it.

1) Vancouver is very multicultural. “Chinada” as the racist ignoramuses affectionately call it. But there are all sorts of Asians there beyond people of Chinese decent (like my Filipino family!), and there are immigrants from all over the world living there. Interracial couples are so common, it’s a thing we barely notice. So it’s almost comical to see the outside world make it a “thing” by having a diverse workplace or movie cast, when any given setting in Vancouver is instantly multi-ethnic. So in my book, it might seem that I’m trying to write in diversity, but I’m not. I’m simply characterizing daily life in that town.

2) Vancouver is a fit place. Many of the locals have some sort of activity they do to stay fit. Yoga, hiking, skiing, and snowboarding are pretty common. People walk, run, and bike everywhere year-round. I’m not saying everyone is active and fit, but for those who aren’t, I’m sure they feel pretty left out. Where I lived in southern Ontario, it was the opposite. The sports of choice were sedentary: ice fishing, snowmobiling, and doing bicep curls with beer.

3) Vancouver is pro-cannabis and has been for decades. Pot was permitted there long before it became legal in Canada, so Vancouver’s full of pot connoisseurs and enthusiasts. Many Vancouverites smoke or vape THC daily, and there are a lot of pot shops where you can buy crazy strains. You’ll smell pot wherever you walk, even if no one appears to be around.

4) Vancouver has a lot of crazy hot people. Could it be the diversity? The healthy lifestyle? All the people who want to be actors? My own bias? I dunno, but good-looking is everywhere.

5) In Vancouver, it rains most months of the year, but it hardly ever freezes during the winter. Grey drizzly days are the norm. It can be depressing, I won’t lie. I coped by calling it “liquid sunshine,” but really, I was dying internally for more sun, and I didn’t even realize it. When I moved back to Ontario, I didn’t mind the freezing-ass winters since I saw more sun there.

It’s been over three years since I was last in Vancouver. Although I really miss my family there, it’s a hard place to miss when I live in awesome Costa Rica. But writing this book has helped me truly appreciate that beautiful Canadian city. I hope you can too.

Author: Donna Fernandez

Author of contemporary fiction.