That’s the let down of research. The concepts are amazing to think about but most of the work comes down to turning on a machine and waiting for a printer to spit out a graph. That was always an issue for me when taking chemistry courses. In a drug design class I found studying exactly how and why compounds affect people interesting, but the processes of producing them tedious (and mistakes too easy to make).I turned to creative writing as a way of keeping things interesting by only focusing on the fun stuff.
This approach might sound appropriate for writing science fiction novels. For a while I wanted Mystic Rampage to be a sci-fi. In an earlier draft I did a lot of research and tried to explain the fantastic parts to make them more believable. However, putting too much explanation in the middle of a battle distracted from the action, and by the end things became too ridiculous for the word ‘science’ to be related to the story anyway. Flarence has a coil gun powerful enough to be used in self-defense, but it’s small enough to fit in his pocket. Soleil fights by throwing toxins, but he keeps them in palm-sized vials. In real life a coil gun would have to be massive to generate an electromagnetic field strong enough to be used the way it is in the book, and the quantity of compounds Soleil uses would not be enough to impact a roomful of people. I’m aware that nothing in this story is practical, but making it realistic wasn’t my goal. I wanted to take real concepts and exaggerate them to make the fight scenes fun. I hope it’s fun enough for any readers to forgive the creative privileges I’ve taken. I hope that in the end people will mostly remember the conflicts.
I decided to base Mystic Rampage in Illinois, but not strictly Chicago. The hotel where Flarence and Clare stay is based on The Drake, but the path that leads to Soleil’s Café is based on a trail in Dekalb. In book 2 the Genies raid an adhesive factory which is based on a place in Montgomery where I worked briefly. This method of combining multiple settings might seem inconsistent to some readers. One chapter paints a picture of a densely populated city with cars lining the streets, and in the next people are firing shotguns in their backyard and nobody is around to hear them go off. Even though this does all take place in one city, the kinds of places the characters live are intended to emphasize their personality. Soleil is the quiet type so his house is secluded, while Darren is more sociable so he lives close to other people.
It might still seem strange to read about people with such different lifestyles living so close to each other, but it isn’t so far from reality. Illinois is a big state and the scenery changes quickly. Keep driving and pretty soon you go from the part of the city filled with hipsters and sports fanatics to rail yards and closed down factories. Before you know it, there’s no infrastructure at all and you’re surrounded by fields of corn and soybean fields that seem to never end. I feel that using different settings to bring out aspects of my characters helped incorporate the different aspects my home state as well. A pair of towns separated by only a sixty minute drive can seem worlds apart. It’s my hope that my characters seem worlds apart based on the kind of house and neighborhood they live in.