Location, location, location — Where do you set your stories?

Hi, welcome back.

Today I’d like to talk about the setting for my novel (tentatively titled The Terrible Strange), discuss some of the specific locations, and why they were included.

First of all, it’s set in Philadelphia but it could be any city, I suppose. Philly is just the one I know the best. And I wanted everything to occur in a city because I love the energy and diversity of cities.

Plus, anything can, and does, happen in cities, so why not throw one more thing — like an inter-dimensional monster and the guy who’s hunting it — into the mix?

Then I wanted my protagonist, Jake, to live in an area that used to be rat-and-roach infested, but now, thanks to an expanding Ivy League school, is a highly-sought-after neighborhood: West Philadelphia near the University of Pennsylvania.

However, Jake doesn’t actually go to Penn, he goes to Temple University. For some reason known only to urban planners, I suppose, Temple has not had the same positive influence on its surrounding neighborhood as Penn has. Temple, in fact, is in a shitty, dangerous area. Great for writing about, but not so great for living in. Or going to school in. And that’s were Jake’s part-time job is, too.

I chose neighborhoods adjacent to colleges simply because they practically vibrate with energy — and energy plays a big role in my story. Plus, you see more diversity in these areas than anywhere else in the city, and I love having characters of different cultural and religious backgrounds, and colors, and sexual orientations. College, ideally, is where people discover, and express themselves. It’s kind of glorious, actually.

Also featured is

  • the old Fairmount Water Works located along the Schuylkill River near the  Art Museum (because I needed somewhere for my monster to rest and heal after its arrival on Earth), and
  • Eastern State Penitentiary, a prison built by the Quakers in 1829, now a crumbling ruin — it’s where the final battle for the fate of life on Earth takes place

Oh, and don’t forget all those wonderful underground subway tunnels, allowing God-knows-what to move through the darkness to every part of the city.

Let me know some of your favorite locations — in your town, or around the world — in the Comments section.

Thanks for reading!

Love is patient. Love is kind. (Wtf?) Part 1

A lot of people know that quote from Corinthians in the Bible. It’s a popular, and comfortable, way of looking at love. As such, it’s often recited at weddings where everyone smiles and nods. Every time I hear this definition of love it makes me think of a soft, cozy shawl.

However …

I’ve been working on my protagonist’s character profile this week, and it’s gotten me to thinking about love; because even though my novel is a sci-fi horror adventure in an urban setting, it’s also a love story.

Believe me, I was just as surprised as you are. I’ve never been interested in love stories, or romance (because, Duh, I mostly write horror. See my short story “Mercy Street” elsewhere on this blog), but there you are. This story wants to be told, and for some unknown reason, it’s picked me to tell it.

Consequently, I had to do some hard thinking on the subject of love. Like, what is it, where does it come from, and is there a cream available to get rid of it?

So the first thing that popped into my head is the idea that we have absolutely no control over love. It chooses you. You are love’s bitch. You don’t get to decide who to love, or when you’re going to fall in love, or where you’re going to be when it happens, or even when it will happen.

Love is basically a cosmic clown car careening around the corner just as you step off the curb. Wham!

 

 

 

 

 

 

In that regard, love remind me a lot of death. Or life.

At the same time, though, love often seems like a weapon wielded by some divine, hilarious prankster god, right? Because once love sets its sights on you it’s just like having one of those hellish Covenant plasma grenades attached to your body — no amount of running around and screaming will fix it. You are fucked.

That’s it for today.

Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your thoughts on love — please tell me in the comments down below. Thanks!