Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Thoughts on Dominance, part 1

I wanted to talk about the Dominance series this week, since Shattered is my latest release. First of all, the setting. I am a Virginia native (born in Virginia Beach, now living in Suffolk), and so my books tend to be set in Virginia. Sometimes it's a real place, sometimes it's a made-up town. In the case of Dominance, I decided to go with Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Norfolk is a medium-sized city with a nice-looking downtown, nestled alongside the Elizabeth River:


According to Wikipedia, it's Virginia's second-largest city in terms of population (the Northern Virginia area is much more populous, of course, but most of it is comprised of counties rather than cities). When I was growing up, Norfolk was pretty run-down in a lot of areas, and not the safest place to walk. It's undergone an amazing renaissance, though, with many old warehouses converted into condos, and lots of new condos and apartments too. There is a terrific art museum (the Chrysler), a good symphony, and a beautiful opera house, and if I didn't have kids and dogs that need space to run, I would most likely have moved to Norfolk when I moved back to this area three years ago. Since I had to live in the suburbs, I moved Gabriel there instead:-).

Dom works in Norfolk, but he lives in nearby Virginia Beach. Most tourists think of Virginia Beach as just the narrow strip of hotels along the oceanfront (the longest pleasure beach in the world, according to Wikipedia), but it's actually a large city-- the biggest city in Virginia, population-wise, and close to the largest land-wise (I think it ranks just behind Suffolk in that regard). Its major river, the Lynnhaven, is beautiful. Virginia Beach looks on the surface like a mass of bland suburban houses and generic shopping malls, but if you dig deeper and drive around the wooded areas near the Lynnhaven, you will find an array of spectacular mansions, some of which are all but hidden down tiny, winding back roads. This is the kind of house I had in mind for Dom.

In Shattered, I had the boys make love on a public beach in Norfolk. There is no such beach as Bay View Beach-- it's a combination of Ocean View Beach Park (confusingly named, as its view is of the Chesapeake Bay, not the ocean) and Sarah Constant Beach Park. (As in the book, you can see Thimble Shoal Light and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel from those beaches.) Ocean View was once the site of Ocean View Amusement Park, and my father remembers the roller coasters there with affection. Oh, and the background of stone on Shattered's cover? That's just meant to symbolize Dom's walls, not to suggest an actual setting. There is no stone to be had in this area, just a whole lot of sand.

And finally, here is a Mustang Boss 429, a car that has played something of a minor role in the series (I wanted the boys to make love on the hood in Illumination, but I'm a little worried the scoop might get in the way!).

A limited number of these beauties were produced in 1969 and 1970, and I understand they go for upward of $200,000-- a bit pricey for me, alas, but pocket change for Dom. I doubt a serious collector would actually drive one of these on a regular basis, so I'm taking a bit of creative license there. But what's the point in having a gorgeous car if you don't drive her? I've always wanted a Mustang (I currently drive a gray minivan, ugh), but even if I had this kind of money to throw around, I wouldn't spend it on something I wouldn't dare to drive. The new Mustang Boss 302, though... ah, that's a different story:-).

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