Weeks of the Phoenix: Location, Location, Location

Here’s a fun factoid: most of the towns and locations in my work are fictional. There are two exceptions: Detoit, Michigan (where Echolocation played the record label showcase in “Broken Promise Records”) and now Carolina Beach, North Carolina in “Days of the Phoenix.” For the most part, the rest of the cities and municipalities are completely fictional.

I do that for a specific reason: I can be as creative as I want to be when it comes to my work. Say that I need a town in New Mexico that has the world’s biggest Nacho Buffet – I can either hope that this town exists, or I can create one. Now you have to ask yourself: is Renacido, New Mexico, home of the Nacho King Buffet & Grill a real place?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve begun to demonstrate the duality in the story “Days of the Phoenix.” The first instance of duality is the beginning and the end of the journey, there is the real state of affliction and then there is the hopeful outcome of being delivered from the malady. There is the duality of existence; the main character is hoping for solutions and the best friend is actively seeking it. The locations play a very important part in that duality dynamic as well.

In the book, Simon Bellinger lives in the very real town of Carolina Beach, NC. This location is where all of the non-Assembly stuff in the book happens, the real life. The Assembly occurs in a no-name fictional municipality; nothing in the Assembly feels like real life, so it is not anchored in a real town. In fact, the only description about the town where the Assembly is located is that it is an hour inland from where Simon lives. Flat land is the only description you get.

I chose Carolina Beach as the real town in the book because I genuinely love the location — CB (as it is known to locals) is a beach town that is the polar opposite of the winter wonderland that I grew up in. There is actually a street (Lake Park Blvd) that is trimmed in palm trees and brightly painted houses, it looks like one of those typical California streets in movies.

Carolina Beach was also chosen because of a big blue building on the corner of Lake Park Blvd; it has a tourist shop at the bottom and apartments above it. I remember the first week I lived on CB, just looking at the building and wondering what it was like to live in that apartment. Once that thought entered my head, then the idea of someone with terrible anxiety running away from the North and crashing there happened, and in my mind, that’s the building Simon lives in. The location actually helped to write a lot of Simon’s story; surely someone who lived that close to the water would take advantage of opportunities to surf, to drive a four-wheel-drive vehicle on the beach, among other activities.

The beach and the water itself is to advance the cause as well — someone is showing up in a strange place to find the best part of themselves, to find peace and understanding …what better place than the beach? There is a meditative quality about hearing the waves roll in, about having the sand call every crevice of your body as “home,” but the abundance of joy and happiness on the beach is palpable. CB was chosen for a very specific reason in a book about healing oneself in a mental capacity.

Figure this: “Days of the Phoenix” comes out on May 7th, just in time to also book your next vacation, right? You could actually be sitting on the sand in Carolina Beach while reading a book set in Carolina Beach — how “Inception” wouldn’t that be? Be sure to pick up your copy!

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