I live in Vancouver, BC, one of the nicest and most expensive places to live in the world. If I walk for thirty minutes in one direction, I can be lost in a faceless grid of glass, concrete, car exhaust, and voices. If I walk for thirty minutes in the other direction, I can be lost in a crowd of hemlocks, firs, and cedars. We Vancouverites are a strange mixture of these two worlds. I love them both, the city and the mountains, and I'm not sure which one is more real. I spent most of my adolescence exploring the wilderness of British Columbia, occasionally dabbling in writing projects. Now, it's mostly the reverse.
We often joke that Vancouver is one of the few places on earth where it is possible to become lost within sight of the downtown lights. There's probably a good short story there. But we all know lots of people have died after becoming lost downtown, too, within a few miles of the mountains.
The two worlds of the Fortress of Clouds have ended up being a reflection of these two sides to my personality, but I didn't consciously intend for it to be that way. Maybe there's only so much you can control in a novel. Things tend to leak out and bubble to the surface, don't they?