In a past post, I mentioned the retired coal mine that formed the basis for The Corridor in No Light. I thought I would go over a few more.
When I was a kid we lived in a house I was pretty sure was haunted. There were all the usual signs: voices when no one else was home, music when the radio and TV were off, odd noises in the night, and things moving around on their own. I was convinced we were being haunted. Or at least the house was.
I wrote a story about it. It was terrible (the story, not the haunting), but I was only ten so I don't beat myself up too much. Failed experiment or not, it started my interest in putting real life, brick and mortar places in my writing.
Then I lived in a shoebox. Well, not an actual shoebox, but a one bedroom place that could have been mistaken for a shoebox. I actually had it in mind when I was writing about Victoria's apartment in The Dagger. The place was so small you had to go outside to change your mind.
The library scene in No Light with the tall, dusty bookshelves comes from the old university library in a town nearby. About fifteen years ago, they gutted the old building and moved everything to a sleek new building on the other side of campus. It was a tragedy. Nothing smells quite as good as thousands of library books all snuggled up on their wooden shelves. Metal shelves make me sad.
In Kingdom Come, Abby's walk along Pennsylvania Ave. to 15th St. in Washington D.C. is based off an actual stroll I took when I was on a school trip. Rissa's neighborhood in Darkness Blooming is based off of some of the more...interesting places I've seen in Kansas City, MO.
Which brings us to The Catalyst. Oh, man. So many of those scenes are straight out of real life. To give you a little background, I used to have a delivery job that took me all over a few rural counties in Missouri. I saw the same little towns so many times, certain streets and houses got stuck in my head. The second half of The Catalyst is full of stores and streets and towns I know. Even though the story is in Illinois, the towns are from Missouri.
I'm sure I'll keep using the places I've lived and visited in my writing. And places that don't exist, of course. It would be funny to read about a gravel road and farmhouse on one of the moons of some planet... Right. Well, now I want to do it. I will resist. For now.
By the way, I'm pretty sure the house was not haunted.