There's always a lot of me in my books. Three obscure nuggets from my San Diego childhood popped up in THE BOOK OF KELL.  If you're from San Diego, you should know all about the Palomar Observatory, Horton Plaza, radio station KGB and the Star of India.

Another obscure nugget from my childhood - me!

#1)  Kell's story begins with a journey to an observatory to view a passing comet. In sixth grade, I, too, was put on a bus with the rest of my class to the observatory to view Comet Kohoutek. We all dutifully lined up to place an eyeball on the telescope to see a distant smudge in the night sky. I found the whole experience somewhat underwhelming, to tell the truth - but at least nowhere near as catastrophic as Kell does!

#2)  A minor character is named Alonzo Tucker. I've been holding on to "Alonzo" for years now, waiting for just the right person to pin it on. That name came from San Diego's Horton Plaza, named for Alonzo E. Horton, a 19th century real estate developer who played a big role in the growth of early San Diego. Full disclosure: His name only stuck in my head because of KGB's Homegrown IV album. (the local radio station of chicken fame would have a contest each year for songs about San Diego stuff - the winners were then recorded on a vinyl record) So if you're a true San Diegan who grew up there in the 70s, you may recall "The Alonzo F. Horton Memorial Rag." That catchy tune by Hunt 'n' Peck misidentified Mr. Horton's middle initial because (the story goes) all the bums sitting at the base of the statue in Horton Plaza had worn the E down to an F.

#3)  Another minor character is named Euterpe which is the name of the figurehead on the Star of India, a beautiful 19th century sailing ship you'll find in San Diego's harbor. Euterpe was the muse of music in Greek mythology, which explains why "my" Euterpe is a deejay.

Funny how THE BOOK OF KELL is set in the not-so-distant post-apocalyptic future and yet rooted in my ancient childhood. Just goes to show (yet again) that EVERYTHING is fodder to a fiction writer, especially one with a memory like mine.  Good times!


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