So, every book has a few of what I call “set pieces”–distinctive locations in which major scenes take place. Some of those in ILLUMINATION are, of course, in my fictionalized version of the real community of Penton, Alabama.
Others–such as the New Orleans and Atlanta locations–are usually real places. The major Atlanta location in the book is the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
I had originally set the scene in one of Atlanta’s high-rise hotels when I plotted the novel, but decided when I got to the actual writing I wanted someplace more distinctive. The first thing that came to mind was the Georgia Aquarium, because it’s a really cool place. But I couldn’t imagine my vampires hanging out with the (literal) sharks.
Then I thought about is one of the city’s oldest surviving cemeteries, Oakland Cemetery (where I once got locked in past closing time, but that’s a story for another day), which has a really cool restaurant across the street called Six Feet Under. But I already had a big cemetery scene in the book, plus vampires…cemeteries….you don’t need too many of those.
Finally, I decided on the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, which is undoubtedly one
of the coolest places in the city. It’s built to incorporate 75 acres of outdoor space, including a 65-acre old-growth forest, as well as bronze dinosaurs that meet visitors on Dinosaur Plaza as they arrive at the museum. There’s a multi-story atrium that houses dinosaur skeletons, and then there’s Argentinosaurus, the largest-known dinosaur to ever roam Earth, way down in Patagonia. Think a 47-foot-long reptile that weighs 8 tons. Now imagine that reptile within spitting distance of Mirren Kincaid’s telekinetic mate, Glory Cummings.
My apologies to the Fernbank Museum for wrecking their facility and leaving vampire corpses scattered on the grounds. All in a virtual way, of course.
It was too cool to pass up. And besides, vampires…dinosaurs…well, there’s an irony to be had, right?