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!