Posted by Alex Alexander • September 19, 2015
I know that some writers model their characters after people from their own lives. They make small, subtle changes: add a mustache or five years of age and that’s it–the character is complete. My book is different. To be sure, every character is the combination of observations I’ve made in real life. But they’re not modeled after any classic prototypes. My characters are a mosaic. Assembled from real people and their actions.
Some of them I’ve had to alter after hearing feedback from my early readers. For instance, initially Mike was somewhat younger than Laura. He was supposed to be a bit more shy, and she–a popular, successful woman that was out of his league. Her falling in love with him was supposed to be a surprise for everyone, herself included. But then, for some reason all the women that had read my first draft declared unequivocally that such things simply did not happen in real life. I conceded that they were rare, but argued that they did happen–I’d witnessed them first-hand. But my female readers were adamant. In the end they convinced me with the argument that my audience may happen to be largely female, and that it was on me to make the story feel real and believable.
Now, about the locations. Why Chicago? Why the lakes? And why Machu Picchu?
When I was a little boy, my father worked for several years at Fermilab–a national laboratory outside of Chicago. We lived in a small town called Batavia, and often drove out to Lake Michigan. I felt that the setting was fitting. Although Nicetown is not a prototype of Batavia, but entirely imaginary.
As for Machu Picchu, it is a place I’ve always wanted to visit, but haven’t gotten the chance to just yet. I am fascinated by the traceless disappearance of the Indians that lived there. And in my book I tried to present a version of what might have happened.