My Inspiration for I SEE LONDON
By Chanel Cleeton
The story behind I SEE LONDON has been in my head for almost ten years. When I was seventeen years old I moved to London to attend an international university. It was an incredible, life-changing experience. Like my heroine, Maggie, I’d lived a pretty sheltered life up until that point. I was born in a relatively small town in Florida. I lived there until high school when I moved to a suburb of Orlando, which was a big adjustment, but nowhere near prepared me for the excitement of London.
Moving across the ocean was a huge risk but it was also an enormous opportunity. One that ultimately was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As soon as my plane touched down in London, I was in love. I don’t know what it was about London, but from the beginning it just felt like home. Every day was a new adventure. I was surrounded by people speaking different languages. I was constantly trying new foods and exploring new places.
London is such a mix of rich history contrasted against a bustling metropolis. It was easy to feel like I was caught between two time periods. At times I felt like I was back in the seventeenth century—surrounded by gorgeous architecture and the quiet elegance of Hyde Park. Other times I was surrounded by bright lights and the noise of snarling traffic in an overwhelming modern city. It’s such a city of contradictions. Perhaps that’s why I loved it so—it was impossible to get bored.
Attending an international university was also an incredible experience, independent from all that London had to offer. I learned as much from my classmates and their life experiences as I did from my professors. It was an amazing opportunity to learn more about other cultures and in doing so I found that I learned so much more about myself.
When I started writing I SEE LONDON I knew I wanted to explore the theme of coming of age in a setting where you’re a fish out of water, learning to adapt to a completely new environment. I really saw it as an opportunity to take the central theme of New Adult—which I love so much—and combine it with the adventure of traveling to a new country and stepping outside of your comfort zone for the ultimate journey of self discovery. I found myself in London and I loved writing the opportunity for my heroine, Maggie, to do the same.
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