Since Dusk debuts next week, I thought it would be a fun time to talk about some things that inspired the book and the people and beings that inhabit this alien world on the galactic rim in the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way. So, with that in mind, there will be no Friday Night Flings tonight, so we have time to do this! You can find all of the pertinent references in the first chapter of Dusk, available as a free read at http://changelingpress.com/content.php?utype=note&uid=6860
1) Olivia Gunnarson’s everyday attire was inspired by a comic book heroine.
This probably won’t surprise many people who know me, but when I started assembling the planet’s characteristics in the deep freeze known as early January in southern Utah, I made it at the far upper end of human tolerance temperature-wise. Because of this, I had a choice to make: let everyone roam around naked, which was my first choice but not entirely practical, or give them the absolute minimum clothing available. After some thought, I revisited my boyhood for the perfect outfit for Olivia, with some fairly radical modifications from the original design.
“Psylocke” by Erulian (DeviantArt.com) erulian.deviantart.com
2) “Dudley” memorializes a bamboo plant I managed to kill once.
My ex-wife brought home a bamboo plant. When I saw it, I was skeptical and told her as much. No one has ever had a browner thumb than I do. Sometimes I think just to be in my presence results in plants wasting away to nothing. But she insisted bamboo was easy to keep alive. After some spirited discussion, we agreed to give it a try, and in a fit of whimsy, I named it Dudley.
Three months later, Dudley was dead. I haven’t owned a houseplant since.
3) The visual appearance of Dusk was inspired by Dante’s Inferno.
To us, our world looks like…home. But how would another world look to human beings who’ve lived there their entire lives and don’t know anything BUT that other world? I wanted Dusk to look as menacing to my terrestrial character as it does soothing to my alien-born couple, and so I had to go back to classic literature to find exactly the right look for it. It didn’t take me long to find the perfect depiction of Hell to use as a template, drawing on an old woodcut and a few images from the Playstation game based upon this hellish tale.
4) Olivia was named for Olivia Newton-John.
So, I needed a name for my main female character. I had an eighties playlist on, just for a change of pace, and “Magic” came on. I thought about it for a second and said, “Of COURSE! No one’s using Olivia right now…let’s go with that.” Naturally, the next time I came up for breath and dipped into social media, I saw a half-dozen authors pimping novels whose heroines had that name. Could’ve been a headdesk moment, but I decided to let it ride.
5) An Interesting, Slightly Eerie Coincidence
Okay, I admit it: I used to be a total Star Trek dork. I started losing interest around Deep Space Nine, which was also around the time I entered high school and discovered the magnificent world of boobs. (This is not nearly as atypical as you might think, incidentally.) So, when I needed a name for Olivia’s love interest, I settled on Captain R.M. Merrick, from the old-school Star Trek episode “Bread and Circuses” (number 43, if you care). Unbeknownst to me, Kase J. Reed, who had the winning idea for Dusk and who is also an author, had a character named Merrick in one of her books! I only learned this when doing the author/character interview with her earlier this week.
6) “Hui Sin Ling” means nothing.
According to four different translation programs, the DDC diplomat with the exotic name who teases Ambassador Trelawney, “Hui” means nothing. “Sin” means “first” or “line,” depending on if one is using the Pinyin or Cantonese dialect respectively. “Ling” apparently means “zero.” I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these translations personally, so if you happen to know someone who can, I’d love to hear from them. So “Hui Sin Ling” means “*nothing* First Zero” or “*nothing* Line Zero.” Not sure what to make of that, but it’s a fun tidbit, no?
7) The tiara Olivia wears is based loosely upon Elrond’s diadem in Lord of the Rings.
‘Nuff said? All righty, then! But, just for a goof:
8) Dudley’s scent was brought about by dinner.
My girlfriend was making Mexican food one night. As it was getting late, I was hungry. She made herself some cinnamon toast to nibble on, and I wound up working the two scents together as an olfactory indication of Dudley’s contentment. (You really don’t want to be within a mile of Dudley when he’s angry. Start with a garbage dump, let it get less savory from there, and you’ve got the idea.)
9) The name of Dusk’s primary polar city, Galacia, was taken from an old Eastern European country.
I liked the play on words of “Galacia” and its similarity to the word “galaxy,” but I thought maybe I’d heard it somewhere before. When I did a little digging, it turns out I had. The old kingdom of Galicia (note the slight difference in spelling) today is located in western Ukraine.