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It's fun to create new worlds for your characters to inhabit, even if those worlds are just new communities. For my Storm Chaser series, I created a brand new place called Hurricane, a town of only a few hundred or so where some of my main characters live. In my unpublished Fire On Mist Creek I developed a town of a few thousand called--try to guess--Mist Creek, in northern Kentucky. Also unpublished is Red Is For Ick, and for that I spent some time developing a southern Indiana community of several thousand that features a theme park and a large lake.

(In Radio Red I set the story near the real-life town of Bellaire, Michigan, but never mind.)

There at the bottom of the cover, that's a lot like what the Bellaire area looks like.

In theory a great way to cheat and cut down on research is to set your story in a real place, but the problem with that is that you'd better get your details right. If your characters are running around New York City, you'd better know where Queens is in relation to the Bronx, and the best way to get from Long Island to Manhattan (I don't). If the tale is in your home town, you'll never hear the end from it if you have North Street on the south side. In The Notorious Ian Grant, I have some characters visit a real flower shop in my home town, Albion. The problem is, by the time the novel was published the shop had moved to a different location.

But the main character's never been to Albion, so I blame him.

So I often split the difference. My little town of Hurricane is totally made up, but it's in a real location: the intersection of county roads 150E and 600N in Noble County, a few miles from my home. When I've achieved Stephen King status, fans will flock to that location to see … four farm fields and a woods. And a hog farm in the distance.

I did the same thing with Coming Attractions. The story was inspired by a real-life drive-in movie theater, but I didn't want to use the real one. So I moved the location a few miles west, from Dekalb County into Noble County in northeast Indiana, so it would be closer to the story's home town, Hopewell.

Which was silly, because Hopewell doesn't exist. I could have just as easily put it all in Dekalb County.

The town was named after a Noble County road, which you might be surprised to learn is Hopewell Road--but I didn't end up putting it there, either. Instead I put it around halfway between two existing towns, Avilla and Kendallville, when I could have just used either of them, instead. Why did I not? Laziness. I didn't want to have to remember where everything was. The irony of that is that, in very general layout, Hopewell is just a copy of Kendallville, anyway, picked up and moved a few miles south. It's just smaller, and has a cool coffee shop on Main Street.

It could be any drive-in, it's just the one in a town that isn't there.

But see, that's the kind of adjustments you can make when you create your own community. You can move New York City a few miles down the coast and call it Gotham, or Metropolis, and suddenly it has Daily Planet buildings and stately Wayne Manors … and the Batmobile never seems to have trouble with crosstown traffic. You won't hear a thing about it in the story--it's all in the author's world building.

Speaking of world building: Coming Attractions is in the Storm Chaser universe, with Hopewell and Hurricane about ten miles from each other. I did that just for the heck of it--you wouldn't know it by reading either book. One Storm Chaser character does appear, very briefly, in Coming Attractions, but doesn't get named. (In the same way, characters from Storm Chaser and the unpublished Red Is For Ick appear together in my young adult novel, The No-Campfire Girls.)

Are crossovers necessary? Nope … just fun.

Find all of our books at:

http://markrhunter.com/

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0058CL6OO

And wherever fine books with my name on them are sold. 

My tweets

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It's fun to create new worlds for your characters to inhabit, even if those worlds are just new communities. For my Storm Chaser series, I created a brand new place called Hurricane, a town of only a few hundred or so where some of my main characters live. In my unpublished Fire On Mist Creek I developed a town of a few thousand called--try to guess--Mist Creek, in northern Kentucky. Also unpublished is Red Is For Ick, and for that I spent some time developing a southern Indiana community of several thousand that features a theme park and a large lake.

(In Radio Red I set the story near the real-life town of Bellaire, Michigan, but never mind.)

There at the bottom of the cover, that's a lot like what the Bellaire area looks like.

 

In theory a great way to cheat and cut down on research is to set your story in a real place, but the problem with that is that you'd better get your details right. If your characters are running around New York City, you'd better know where Queens is in relation to the Bronx, and the best way to get from Long Island to Manhattan (I don't). If the tale is in your home town, you'll never hear the end from it if you have North Street on the south side. In The Notorious Ian Grant, I have some characters visit a real flower shop in my home town, Albion. The problem is, by the time the novel was published the shop had moved to a different location.

But the main character's never been to Albion, so I blame him.

 

So I often split the difference. My little town of Hurricane is totally made up, but it's in a real location: the intersection of county roads 150E and 600N in Noble County, a few miles from my home. When I've achieved Stephen King status, fans will flock to that location to see … four farm fields and a woods. And a hog farm in the distance.

I did the same thing with Coming Attractions. The story was inspired by a real-life drive-in movie theater, but I didn't want to use the real one. So I moved the location a few miles west, from Dekalb County into Noble County in northeast Indiana, so it would be closer to the story's home town, Hopewell.

Which was silly, because Hopewell doesn't exist. I could have just as easily put it all in Dekalb County.

The town was named after a Noble County road, which you might be surprised to learn is Hopewell Road--but I didn't end up putting it there, either. Instead I put it around halfway between two existing towns, Avilla and Kendallville, when I could have just used either of them, instead. Why did I not? Laziness. I didn't want to have to remember where everything was. The irony of that is that, in very general layout, Hopewell is just a copy of Kendallville, anyway, picked up and moved a few miles south. It's just smaller, and has a cool coffee shop on Main Street.

It could be any drive-in, it's just the one in a town that isn't there.

 

But see, that's the kind of adjustments you can make when you create your own community. You can move New York City a few miles down the coast and call it Gotham, or Metropolis, and suddenly it has Daily Planet buildings and stately Wayne Manors … and the Batmobile never seems to have trouble with crosstown traffic. You won't hear a thing about it in the story--it's all in the author's world building.

Speaking of world building: Coming Attractions is in the Storm Chaser universe, with Hopewell and Hurricane about ten miles from each other. I did that just for the heck of it--you wouldn't know it by reading either book. One Storm Chaser character does appear, very briefly, in Coming Attractions, but doesn't get named. (In the same way, characters from Storm Chaser and the unpublished Red Is For Ick appear together in my young adult novel, The No-Campfire Girls.)

Are crossovers necessary? Nope … just fun.

Find all of our books at:

http://markrhunter.com/

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0058CL6OO

 

And wherever fine books with my name on them are sold.  

My tweets

Tags:

Don't Cry For My Air Conditioner

We had an unusually cool spring, so maybe the problem didn't start with the first heat wave of the year, but that's sure when we noticed it: Our big window air conditioner blew air just fine, but that air wasn't conditioned.

If these things don't happen at the worst possible time, they're at least discovered then.

I can't complain, because the air conditioner came with the house--which I bought thirty years ago. In fact, we did an internet search for the model, Sears Coldspot, and learned they stopped making it in the 70s. Our air conditioner had actually survived over forty Indiana summers, and that's remarkable.

I was still in my teens when that thing was made! I wish I'd held up nearly as well.

One final indignity: The box for the new air conditioner ended up on the old air conditioner.

My house doesn't have central air, or central anything. I suppose we could pump cold water through the hot water radiators and cool the house that way, but ... say, maybe that's something to try. Although the furnace is also over forty years old, so best leave well enough alone.

The air conditioner was set into a window, at one corner of the house. But it was powerful enough to cool the entire downstairs, as long as you set up three fans to blow the air from room to room, in a windy circle that ended with the kitchen air being pumped right back to the conditioner. If you set it up just right, walking through a room can feel like being Jim Cantore reporting for The Weather Channel.

The upstairs is on its own. We bought a small unit for the bedroom, and left the smaller room upstairs to swelter in the summer. We use it as a backup fridge in the winter. Old house problems.

When the downstairs air conditioner, which had its own electrical shutoff and a special plug, stopped cooling the house, Emily went outside and laid her hand against the side of it. Then she came back inside and placed her hand in a stream of cold water until the burning stopped.

At least a fire would have taken care of that ugly wallpaper.

Yes, there was definitely something wrong, of the "play Taps at its grave" variety.

Anyone who knows my history will not be surprised to find I'd been saving up for the next big home repair job. After that, it was a simple process of taking the old air conditioner out and replacing it.

It's usually when the word "simple" appears that we run into trouble.

The old unit had been permanently installed in that #@%& window. It had been screwed, hammered, molded, glued, foam-sprayed, and caulked into place. It was as if in addition to stopping air leaks, they wanted to stop burglaries, alien invasions, and Godzilla.

Eventually we freed it, using two screwdrivers, a hammer, chisel, crowbar, power saw, and two sticks of dynamite. (Luckily it was close enough to Independence Day that nobody noticed the noise.) Preparing to install the new air conditioner, I tried to raise the window further.

The window wouldn't raise. It wouldn't raise because it had been installed at the same time as the air conditioner, and was fitted to its exact specifications.

The new unit did not, of course, meet those specifications. But you knew that.

That wrapping on the new air conditioner contains ... a remote control. Unless both my legs are broken, I have no idea when I'd use it.

Keep in mind that Emily and I were doing this work on a day when the temperature was 88 degrees (at 6 p.m.) and the humidity was 107%. How this is possible I don't know, but after an hour we looked like we'd stepped into a shower fully clothed. Oddly enough, the dog didn't seem at all bothered by this--if anything, he seemed happy to have a new window to look out of.

When we finished, I left the pried out metal, the hunks of insulation and piles of screws, the broken drill bits, right where they fell, and simply taped over the areas the new unit didn't cover. Then I tried to plug it in.

Which wouldn't work. The new unit didn't have a special plug.

Some things you should check first. Luckily, there was a more normal plug a few feet on the other side; we turned the new unit on and went out to get a pizza while it was working.

No way were we cooking inside that house. I mean, any more than we already had.

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Book Review: Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

"God is dead. Meet the kids."

Fat Charlie Nancy is just a normal guy with a normal job and a normal girlfriend, which tells you, considering this is a Neil Gaiman book, that things are about to go very, very sideways for him. Sure enough, he soon learns that his father has dropped dead while singing karaoke in a Florida bar.

Fat Charlie hates his father, who seems to have made it his mission to humiliate his son, including giving him his nickname. Finding out that Dad was a god named Anansi doesn't change Fat Charlie's opinion a bit. But that little revelation is only the beginning, as Fat Charlie's brother, Spider, shows up and turns Fat Charlie's tiny spare bedroom into a huge pleasure palace.

Then things get weird.

Nobody's better at taking regular people and dropping them down a rabbit hole than Neil Gaiman. He did it brilliantly in American Gods, and here he brings back one of those gods, Anansi, to torture his unsuspecting offspring. Fat Charlie, once settled into his London life, now finds himself ping-ponging across the Atlantic Ocean, with his job, relationship, and life in jeopardy as he desperately struggles to figure out what's going on.

It's a comedy.

After all, there are also few authors better at drawing humor out of their character's misery, either.

Although not as complicated as American Gods--there's only one god involved here, mostly, and way fewer characters--Gaiman weaves a great tale of rich and eclectic people, in a (shall I say it?) web that gradually draws their stories together. It's delightful, chaotic, and great fun, written in a free flowing way less experienced writers just couldn't get away with. I have a feeling Gaiman works hard to make his writing look like it's not hard work.

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