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Sense of Place #2: Christopher Beha, Washington Square Park

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At some point, the neighborhood — and these walks around it — seeped into the story.

Christopher Beha
Place: Washington Square Park, New York
Click image to enlarge.

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Like many fiction writers, I have the occasional experience of making what seem at the time wild intuitive leaps that can be described after the fact as rather straightforward appropriations of life. The offices of the magazine where I work are in Greenwich Village, a few blocks from Washington Square. While in the early stages of planning out my second book, a novel about a young woman who undergoes a test of faith after converting to Catholicism, I spent my lunch breaks walking around the square and the surrounding neighborhood, thinking about this woman, trying to understand her. The woman had a name, Sophie Wilder, but not yet much in the way of a story. I didn’t know what happened to her. At the time my cousin Paul lived in a house on the north end of the square, and I would often walk by the place. At some point, the neighborhood — and these walks around it — seeped into the story. A voice came into my head, a voice that was not quite my own but was the voice of a young writer, working on his second book, walking around Washington Square, thinking about this woman, trying to understand her. I realized that the difficulty of understanding faith from the outside was part of the story that I wanted to tell, and that this skeptical young man was going to be the vehicle for telling this story. I decided to place this character in that house on the square, where he would live with his cousin, and I decided to set him to the task of finding out What Happened to Sophie Wilder.

Christopher Beha

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Photo by: Brad DeCecco


Brad lives in New York and photographs subjects around the world. His portrait work earned him the PDN award for the 30 Best Emerging Photographers of 2007. He also directs and acts as DP on documentary and commercial film and video projects. Communication Arts recognized his work with the Jury Prize for Cinematography. His first foray into music videos premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. His clients include: Esquire, Time, Smithsonian, The Washington Post Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, People, Forbes, Lexus, Money, ESPN and Universal Records. More from this author →