Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Novel's Journey: Location, Location

What's a super-spy thriller without exotic locations?

I knew for Live and Let Fly, that Vern and Grace had to travel to some unusual places. After all, what self-respecting Evil Overlord puts his base of operations in, say Pueblo, Colorado? (My home town, so I can make comments, thank you.)

I have two EOs--one who does things evil and well and the other who's, well, a six-sigma flake with delusions of TQM Grandeur.

Six-Sigma, aka Ronald McThing, needed someplace fun, someplace unexpected, Idaho! Yeah! Idaho! But not just anywhere in Idaho, oh, no! Somewhere small, out of the way and with a fun name. I searched the World's Atlas and came up with Arco. I loved it: the Evil Overlord from...Arco!

Arco turned out to be a great choice, for it not only offered some nice buttes where McThing could make his insidious complex and toy museum, but it's also the site of America's first nuclear reactor. Hey! Guess what you need to make your own Gap? A nuclear accident! And why waste good funding and spend all that time on paperwork for building something new when you can buy out the old one, hold secret experiments and "oopsie!"? (Please don’t e-mail me all the holes in that plan. It's McThing's strategy, not mine. He's also pathologically afraid of Smurfs.)

As it turned out, I didn't get to do as much in Arco as I'd intended. Everyone got far more violent than I expected and Vern was in no shape for sight-seeing. However, I did get to mention the Arco Airport. McThing will fly out of there in his corporate jet. Of course, it was such a small airport, I didn't know if it could handle a corporate jet, and the FAA stats are just so much numbers to someone who doesn't even know how much her luggage weighs, much less a small jet. So I called the first number on the FAA site for Arco and got the chamber of commerce. When I explained the situation, the lady gave me the number...

...for the drug store!

"Talk to Steve. He's on the board and he can answer your questions," the lady assured me. He did, too, even setting me on the right track to find a jet. I settled on the gulfstream 550 because it has the better range to take McThing to his boss, the Evil Overlord Frank Li in...

The Exotic Island of Bandar Baru!

If you go to your handy atlas, you will not find Bandar Baru in the index. I've made it up to avoid any international incidents. So how do you make up your own island?

Determine needs: I wanted a small island nation, homogeneous population, with a volcano and subsequent religion of volcano god worship, which makes it ripe for a Faerie demigod to come in and set up religious housekeeping. It also had to be a playground for the rich.

Determine location: If you pull up a map of the currents in the Indian Ocean, you'll see a nice dead zone along the Tropic of Capricorn. I thought that would help it stay off the main trade routes. I wanted to minimize the Western influence until very recently (air travel).

Determine history: I gave them a disaster, so the US and other nations could come help them and they'd then turn their economy into tourism, only have that ruined by a volcano that can't decide when to erupt. This, of course, revived the old religion of Apikema, the volcano god.

Determine details: Since I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer, I'll figure a lot of these out as I go, but I have found a couple of things useful: the Indonesian/English dictionary online lets me create a reasonable-sounding foreign language by playing with the actual words. (Bandar Baru means "new port," which will have significance.) I'll probably get names from the same source or go to the handy White Pages for Sumatra and Madagascar. I get a lot of names that by looking in foreign phone books, incidentally. For the rest, I'll pull up some travel brochures of similar islands in the area, and rely on my own experience as a fabulous jet-setter.

Give me a minute while I stop laughing.

Word Count: 54,700. I finally managed to get through the plodding part. (Write. Write. Write) and had a fun scene where Grace turns Vern human so he can go with them to Bandar Baru.

Fave Scene: Which has nothing to do with this post, but it's fun. Vern turns human. (BTW: Tap out the sequence and see if you recognize the song.)

Eight...two sixteenths, eighth, quarter eighth, eighth, eighth. Eight...two sixteenths, eighth, quarter eighth, eighth, eighth. Eight...two sixteenths, eighth, quarter eighth, eighth, eighth...

"I don't think it's working." I didn't know if I was disappointed or relieved.

"Keep going. Don't break rhythm. This is an unusual spell. You have to let it get into you."

Eight...two sixteenths, eighth, quarter eighth, eighth, eighth. I started tapping with claws on all four limbs.

"You know, I don't really like that idea."

"You don't have to go."

"No. I'm fine. But I don't think it's--ergh!"

Suddenly, my whole body heated up and got all...gooey. Then I felt like I was being forced into a trash compactor, or maybe a mold that was too small.


I got heavy, boulder heavy, and fell to the ground. I didn't understand how I could make such crashing sounds when I was so much flubber. Then I started feeling a little more solid, but lighter, which panicked me--or would have if I weren't so distracted by being gelatinous.

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