Welcome back once again! Well, you can now order the paperback version of Room 3 on Amazon, but let me caution you that the price there is just a tad more than you would pay through me come Monday, and of course the eBook version is not yet available. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome your support, but I’m going to be selling the book at an $11.50 price point with $3.50 for shipping, so you’re looking at $15 vice $15.20 from Amazon, so it’s a minor savings if you have Amazon Prime. Still, it’s creeping out there… Okay! Now then. The places and locations of Room 3. Surprisingly, Room 3 is as much a road novel as it is about being confined in one place. I think it lends a dynamic air that was missing in the original draft, and I just plain like to write about different locations around the world. Each city or town adds its own local flair to the story. That said, Room 3 spans three different countries in two different continents with very few locations directly named in Kelli’s journal (as she’s rightfully paranoid of it falling into the wrong hands), so there’s a lot of ground to cover. I’ll hit some of the highlights today.
Boston, Massachusetts. Much of the novel’s DNA is rooted in Boston. Both Kelli and Carla grew up there, and the story really begins in the city. Kelli works at a semi-fictional, unnamed bar in the novel, but it’s very loosely based on Shenanigan’s Irish Pub in South Boston, which means that Kelli’s kidnapping would occur on West Broadway. For those who aren’t that familiar with it, West Broadway is not the safest part of the city (though also not the most dangerous), and so it makes some sense that a kidnapping would take place here. It also begs the question of why a woman would walk down the street alone late at night in such a neighborhood – and that’s a very important question for you to ask! This is an early hint that things might not quite be what they seem.
To this same end, all locations in Boston are non-specific and fictional. This is intentional, as I love grounding my stories in specific locations.
Barberton, Ohio. Barberton is the unnamed second stop on Sam and Kelli’s whirlwind tour of the United States. The pair stick to small towns and minor cities as they follow the trail of a complex web of underground byways. Known as “the biggest small town in the country” and “the Magic City”, Barberton was created in 1891 as a planned industrial community built around a glacial lake. Barberton laid at an advantageous point along the railroad lines, providing the perfect opportunity for many different industries to have easy access to transportation. Like many such cities, economic opportunities have been lean as of late, and meth addiction has sprung up within its borders. It would be a great place to lie low.
Mount Airy, North Carolina. This is referenced as a small town with a “cheesy motel” in the novel. The motel in question is the Mayberry Motor Inn, an Andy Griffith-themed motel. Mount Airy, quite obviously, is best known as the model for Mayberry, and so it seemed fitting to send my protagonists there to hide.
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Ciudad Juarez is one of the deadliest cities in North America, and it lives up to its reputation in Room 3. Many years ago I heard a story on NPR about the people who vanished from the city and the many corpses that turned up on the hills outside the city. It captured my imagination: what could that life be like on a day-to-day basis? The place has just gotten crazier and more dangerous since then, and I’ve wanted to write about it for ages. It just made sense for Sam and Kelli to hide in such a place – with all the wanton chaos and violence, they would have no choice but to hide out for their own survival. I was also able to tie the city’s violence into the overarching Among the Dead mythos.
Soho, London. Soho is central to the third act of Room 3. It is the de facto European hub of the Underground, a group dedicated to resisting the very organization that kidnapped Kelli (and we’ll talk more about the Underground and the Organization/Corporation in tomorrow’s post). Soho itself was once considered one of the seedier parts of London but has evolved into more of a cultural center for the gay community in London, though that doesn’t really play a part in Room 3. Soho is also considered the center of the sex trade in London, and a colorful community overall, which is why I chose the place. After so many non-descript towns and cities, I wanted the two major cities at the back half of the novel to really breathe and have a life of their own. I attempted to capture them as best as I could.
The climactic scene of Room 3 takes place in the Heron Tower in London, which oversees Soho. Heron Tower was once the tallest structure in London, so I felt that it would be a fitting place to have all the events of the novel come to a head.
Room 3 ends on the cliffs of Easington, in northern England. I can’t say too much about this place’s role in the novel without giving away the ending, but I wanted a place that felt something like a sanctuary in nature – a place to cool off after being in so many dangerous places. Kelli actually passes over the Hawthorn Viaduct, an ancient aqueduct, which is mean to be somewhat symbolic of her connection to a long-vanished past.
There are loads of other places in the book, but I’ll leave it to you to discover those. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the warring factions of Room 3.