Like Sandra, one of the main characters in my Thuperman Series, as a kid I always dreamed of going to California. After all, it was the cool place to be, where movies and movie stars were made, as well as most TV shows that I watched. It was a fantasy world with mountains and an ocean, famous cities and Disneyland. My dad often talked about picking up stakes and moving out west. Of course, California was one possible destination…but that didn’t happen.
I grew up on a farm near a small Midwestern town in west central Ohio. Vacations, if we were able to take them, meant driving to eastern Kentucky to spend a few days visiting relatives. Dad was always worried sick about whether the livestock was fed, and other daily chores were done in his absence. Calling the farmhand who he’d left in charge did little to settle him mind. So, our time away from the home was always brief.
As I grew my view of the world continued to expand. When I was ten-years old I saw Lake Erie for the first time. When I was twelve I flew in an airplane for the first time, from Columbus to Detroit and then on to Toronto on a group tour of the factories where some of the farm equipment my father used was manufactured.
My first time seeing an ocean can when I was in college. I flew to Florida to visit my sister who, at the time, was serving in the Air Force. That was the Gulf of Mexico, technically not the ocean but close enough for someone who’d never seen a body of water larger than a lake.
My first opportunity to fulfill my California dream came in the mid 1980’s while I was served in the Air Force. I spent a year attending a language school in Monterrey. While there I did some traveling and exploring, checking out San Francisco, Los Angeles and a few other places. Of course, some of those experiences would lend settings for my future writing. For example, there are a couple of scenes in the third book of the Thuperman Series (to be published in 2019 or 2020) that take place in the Monterrey area.
A friend and I spent The 4th of July weekend camped out in his cousin’s living room, within walking distance of Newport Beach. As you might suspect, that area also became the setting for a book, a sci-fi detective story set in Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach, cities in that vicinity. Besides providing a supplementary storyline for the Wolfcat Series (Book 1 due out this Fall 2018), it provides a backstory for the Fried Windows Series and shares characters from the Thuperman Series.
It’s odd how sometimes things that happen in a writer’s life connect with fictional stories. Beyond providing settings for books, curiously I’ve unwittingly connected with some people from those places in my more recent past. A good example is the real-life muse who inspired Wolfcats. She used to live in Costa Mesa.
Back in January, my son moved to Irvine, the next town over from Newport Beach. His wife, though originally from Florida, has lived there for some time. Since they are having a baby in a couple of months, they have asked Grandpa to help them take care of the baby. So, sometime in December I’ll be relocating there to live once more, for a while at least, at the edge of the world.