War Paint (States of Love) by Sarah Black
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht
Sales Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sarah Black here again talking about her latest story, War Paint. Welcome, Sarah.
Adaptive Reuse for Young Guys and Old Buildings
Thanks for letting me visit! When I was writing War Paint, I was thinking about what happens when a door slams shut behind you. You don’t get to transition gradually, get used to the change and settle in to the new place or new role. Sometimes life just kicks us in the butt and slams the door. Retirement, divorce, an accident or injury. For soldiers and other military people, a combat injury not only changes everything today, but may change the future forever. No kids, no career, no ability to support oneself—that’s not easy to swallow at 24.
At the same time I was working on this story, about a young guy who sustains a combat injury and is trying to find a way forward, I was looking at adaptive reuse buildings. I started writing some information articles for an architectural firm to use on their blog, and the more I looked into adaptive reuse, the more I liked it. The idea of saving the old buildings, making them useful and beautiful again, appealed to me deeply. Much of the adaptive reuse is being done in cities, and as the old warehouses and factories are being turned into lofts and small creative businesses, more than just buildings are being rejuvenated and made new again.
This adaptive reuse is more expensive and difficult that simply tearing down the old buildings and putting up new. They have to be changed to support new access and new systems, while keeping their structural integrity and the design elements that people associate with the old. The care and attention, intentionally seeking out a difficult way to work, was very appealing.
But why? It didn’t make sense. Lead paint! Asbestos! Why couldn’t we just sweep those old mistakes under the rug and put up the new and shiny and efficient, with functioning air conditioning? There is just something about the slow, the old, the challenging, choosing to keep the antique and not so efficient—because it is part of our history, it reminds us where we came from, it has—forgive me—the weight of years of stories in the floorboards, the walls. We are more than our potential. We are also where we came from. For me, keeping the old buildings, making them useful again, seems like we are keeping the soul of the old places. And taking responsibility for caring for it.
Somehow my thinking about these characters, one just injured and one injured in the past, melded with the other writing I was doing about adaptive reuse. I wanted to fix everyone, the old buildings, the characters. So then I did something totally off the wall- I put myself into the story. I’m the model for the slightly flaky, totally inappropriate therapist the guys call The Manatee.
The building in the story, the Riviera, is actually an adaptive reuse Buick showroom in Roanoke, Va. It has been made into lofts and artist studios, and is called The Electra after one of the original Buick models. The work done on the old building is beautiful, and it is lovely, a grand old lady- but without a mural! However, the wall of big industrial windows on the side of the building make the artists who work there very happy. I live right up the street, in another adaptive reuse building, in a neighborhood of warehouse conversions and old buildings made new again.
Thanks for reading my story! I hope you like War Paint.
About War Paint
There’s an art to love.
Mural artist Ben has come from Tel Aviv to Atlanta to work on a commission. A successful artist, he’s still lonely and isolated after his family’s rejection. Ben is charmed and surprised when local soldier Eli mistakes him for homeless, and brings him a cup of coffee and a biscuit. This gesture opens the door. Eli is lost, trying to make sense of a future without the Army after a combat injury ends his career.
Art gives them a new language and a path forward. But lost men can reach out, desperate to hang on to anyone close. Is what they find together real, and the kind of love that will last?