MAKE BELIEVE STORIES NEED MAPS THAT ARE REAL

Every evil scientist needs a secret lab, right?

I gave the bad guy in The Deep Cove Lineage, Dr. Sleeth, more than a lab.  I gave him an entire underground complex fully funded out of the covert operations of the United States.  Yeah, I was having  fun with that.  His job was to create a monster that could be useful in warfare, that could be unleashed behind enemy lines and turned lose, so to speak.

Of course he succeeded, because that is how the Deep Cove monster came to be.

The last two weeks I’ve been working on the next installment (I hope to have it out by Thanksgiving) and it is set almost entirely in the underground complex named DECOSOL, which is an acronym for Deep Cove Special Operations Laboratory.  I gave it a long acronym name because when I was in Port Orchard I was surrounded by government employees and sailors in the Navy, and those people use acronyms like you wouldn’t believe.  I mean, everything is an acronym.  Whenever they talked it was like a whole other language.  So, I made this one up as a tip of my hat to them.

Continuity has been an issue with this story, now the fifth one in the series, but the biggest problem has been the actual layout of the compound.  In The Deep Cove Lineage I mostly described individual rooms–the lagoon where the monster was kept–the cafeteria–private quarters–administrative areas–you know, the places things happened.  What I didn’t do was work on a unified map of the complex.  Shame on me, because now the plot requires an almost systematic walk-through of the facility, and I need to describe where the characters are, where they are going, and how they get there.

So, with my large red Sharpie I made a map.

TOP SECRET:  A map of DECOSOL
TOP SECRET: A map of DECOSOL

I am not much of an artist, but in my mind I need to know where things are because those things matter when telling a story.  I recently read a novel that had people on a spaceship and, although the book was good, I never could get a mental map of where they were on the spaceship and what was happening where.  I don’t want my readers to have the same problem.

I don’t think sharing the map gives too much away, and you probably can’t read my handwriting anyway.  The bottom of the map where it says “Above/Below” is the entry place.  I really liked that piece in the story.  You’ll have to buy it to find out why.  From there, on one side of the compound is the lagoon, which I sometimes call the lair, and on the extreme other side (top left) are the private quarters for the bad guy Dr. Sleeth.  I had to shrink them down a bit because I ran out of paper.  In between those two areas is essentially an H-shaped facility.  Again, I was thinking about government buildings here.  One hallway is filled labs that heads into the cafeteria.  A hallway joins that large room to another large room, what I call the workroom.  To the right of the workroom is a hallway that runs parallel to the labs, but it has living quarters for the scientists.  Above the workroom, along a zigzag hallway is Dr. Sleeth’s bedroom, living room, and private laboratory.  There is lots of cool stuff inside his private lab.

The blue ink line represents the water line.  Everything to the right of that line is actually built under the lake.  And yeah, that matters.

I share all of this just to say that when writing it is sometimes helpful to draw it out, or diagram it, even if the actual picture or image never makes it into the text itself.  This kind of grunt work is a part of the background story, and that is what I think gives even far-flung fiction like government engineered lake monsters a feeling of reality.  I am reminded of a story I once heard about C. S. Lewis.  Apparently he made the first map of Narnia when he was about seven years old.  When he was an adult, he could write about Narnia as an adult with clarity, even though Lewis still had some major continuity problems, but that is a topic for a different blog.

I resisted the temptation to put a “You Are Here” sticker on the map.  I am proud of myself.

If you’re interested in reading the first four stories, head over to my Amazon author page (click here) and pick them up.  Most of them are only 99 cents.  The first two, Deep Cove and Deep Cove: The Party Crasher are pretty short, but The Deep Cove Lineage and The Deep Cove Investigation are both good sized short stories, about 12,000 words each.  Those last two are also more sci-fish than the first ones, which are more horror/monsterish . If you read Lineage and Investigation, you have the essence of the story.

THE MONSTER STORY

“Well, that’s mostly true, and I know who and what you are and what your expertise is,” he picked his teeth with his fingernail, “But we’re not going to beat the Russians with rockets and Buck Rogers alone.  We need more.”  Then the President paused and looked away, as if suddenly saddened.  “We are going to lose Vietnam.  There is no way we can win.  What is worse is that it is only a matter of time before they will be in France, Saudi Arabia and even California for all I know.  We need more than troops and firepower too.  We need something else, and your job is to provide that something else no matter what the cost.”

“What exactly are you asking me to do, Mr. President?”

“I want you to work at militarizing wildlife . . .”

From The Deep Cove Lineage

My first book, The Haunting of Pastor Butch Gregory and Other Short Stories, was a mostly spiritual endeavor, as are most of my short stories such as Speculation and The Land Begins to Heal.    To be a writer, though, I think, means in part that I am able to tell stories that don’t necessarily carry a spiritual message.  To that end, I began working on a purely secular plot revolving around a monster.  I chose the monster/horror/science fiction milieu because I personal enjoy these types of stories.  What resulted was The Deep Cove Monster.

I published the first short story last summer and then followed that up with the second one in the winter of 2013.

Last week the third, and by far the longest installment of the series was released by my publisher, bardandbook.com.  It is available at their website or at amazon.com, smashwords, bardandbook.com and it should be available at other outlets soon, such as barnesandnoble.com.  Click on the image below to buy from Amazon.com

Newest Release--Third installment in The Deep Cove Monster series.
Click To Buy

Title--The short story, about 12,000 words, is titled The Deep Cove Lineage.  In essence it is an origins story so I almost titled it Deep Cove:  Origins or maybe Deep Cove Beginnings but decided that both of those seemed a little too copycat.  One of the elements in the story is the successive generations of monsters that are bred in captivity, hence the word lineage.  I decided that I liked that idea better and it felt less used.

Horror--I believe that the horror genre is over populated with mass murderers or homicidal paranormal creatures.  What I wanted to do was bring elements of the horror story motif in a more realistic and less personal environment.  I don’t know if I achieved true horror story status, but there are some scenes I wrote that felt, well, gruesome.

Science Fiction--Somewhere along the way, and we can probably blame Star Trek for this, science fiction turned into outer space.  However, the origins of science fiction are not really outer space as much as scientific innovation that leads to disaster or danger.  It was this concept that I worked on in The Deep Cove Lineage–science that has gone too far and caused a dangerous situation.

Period Piece--I am still intrigued by working on a period piece.  I was not born until 1971, so the 60’s and 70’s are in my thoughts but I still have to work on it.  The Deep Cove Lineage begins in the late 1960s and ends where the first two begin, 1978.  It is fun to think about music, food, and fashion and the way people might think about life a generation ago.  One of the ways I did this was to emphasize the formal feeling of the lab–everyone is required to wear their white lab coat.  No one in my generation would think of enforcing such a rule, but in the 60’s that might be something people are sticklers for.

Sex and Violence--There is sex in this story, but it is not graphic and more suggestive than actual.  The violence is tough though.  People die an alarming rate once things heat up.

Changing Attitudes--Without giving anything away, I worked very hard to drastically show, and hopefully not over explain, how the scientists change in their attitudes toward human beings as their work progresses.  Most of the change is influenced by the villain, Dr. Sleeth.  People change as we slowly warm up to ideas that are convenient.  There is a little political commentary in that concept.  We accept things today we would not have accepted 12 years ago because it is convenient.

The Monster--In the first two stories all we see of the monster is its destructive power.  In this origins story, we learn why the monster is the way she is and who is to blame.  I think, maybe, I might have even been able to build a little empathy for the beast.  Maybe.

I hope you enjoy the story.  If you haven’t already read the first two, you can buy them from my Buy Jamie’s Stories page at the top of this blog.  Thanks for reading.  I really do appreciate it.