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Friday, 14 March 2014

Blog Tour - Erin Lange

Last week I was supposed to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the publication of Erin Lange's latest release 'Dead Ends'. However due to lose of broadband connection and then many blog issues the post is (very) late, to which I apologise to the Erin, Faber and Faber and my blog readers.

Dead Ends is the latest release by Erin Lange and the main characters Billy D and Dane set on a task to find Billy D's father who left him and his mum many years before. When he left he gave Billy D an atlas which contains lots of clues to towns, where Billy D believes, if he follows the clues, he will find his father.

The author, Erin Lange, joins me on my blog today to talk about the strange names she found while writing this book: 

An Atlas of Odd Place Names

There’s a talking frog in Texas and a monster in Missouri.

Or so says the atlas owned by Billy D., a character in my new book, DEAD ENDS.

Billy’s atlas contains more than maps. It is peppered with handwritten clues pointing to towns with strange names. Kermit, Texas is one. Frankenstein, Missouri another.

Billy D. believes one of the riddles will eventually lead him to his missing father, the man who put the clues into the atlas, and he enlists the help of the main character, Dane, to solve those clues. What follows is an adventure with several detours and more than a few dead ends.

I had the best time researching towns and coming up with clues. This element of the book was born during a discussion in my newsroom (I work as a journalist), when we were covering a story in one of those oddly-named places. All across the newsroom, my coworkers started shouting out silly city names from the states where they grew up. I couldn’t think of one from my home state of Illinois, so I did a web search and was shocked to find a long list – place like Roaches, Dog Walk and even Chicken Bristle, Illinois.

Most of these places are less “town” and more “unincorporated community,” meaning they are often little more than a street with a few houses and maybe a gas station. But I was surprised by how many of these places had official signage, embracing their funny names and welcoming travelers to places like “Nowhere, Oklahoma” and “Slaughter Beach, Delaware.”

I fell down a rabbit hole. I lost hours and hours of time scouring the internet for the most bizarre town names I could find. I would have three websites open at once – a list of towns, google maps, and an image search engine. I ended up cataloguing my favorites for use in DEAD ENDS. This list of towns provided the answers to my riddles. From there, I had to work backward to come up with clues to plant in Billy’s atlas – the most challenging part by far, but also the most fun.

And these odd names aren’t limited to the U.S. at all! In fact, after writing DEAD ENDS, my critique partner passed along an article from the Daily Mail all about a partnership between Dull, Scotland and Boring, Oregon. Apparently, they hope to defy their names with an annual celebration. They call this holiday, of course, “Boring and Dull Day.”

I’ll leave you with a clue from the book… and a hint! This one leads to a town in the state of Arizona, where I live.

The name of this town is what’s needed for a duel.

Happy hunting!

Thank you again to the author, Erin Lange, for including me in the blog tour and apologies again for the delay in posting it.

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