I had to make a big decision while writing this week’s episode of DLTDGB (#130, “May 9, 1997, Maybe here’s where the new story begins”), regarding the identification of the location of Character-Greg’s summer research program. Do I make up a fake city and a fake university name, like I did for Jeromeville? Or do I just identify the location of Character-Greg’s new summer adventure with its real name?
I went with option 2. And then, at the last minute, I changed back to option 1. And then I panicked, because my idea of the etymology I wanted for my made-up place name kept giving me words that were already the names of prescription drugs or obscure species not native to the area. So I just chose the very generic sounding “Grandvale,” which apparently is not a very common place name in the US despite its generic sound.
Although most of DLTDGB is set in a fictional state in a fictional universe, there is precedent for my use of real place names when Greg is traveling outside of his home region. He went to Intervarsity’s convention in Urbana, Illinois, and to Disneyland in Orange County, California. (I used the regional name “Orange County” instead of the specific city of “Anaheim,” or the common incorrect identification of Disneyland’s location as “Los Angeles,” mostly because I am a hater of Los Angeles and Anaheim sports teams, but that’s another topic for another time.) So I compromised by at least identifying the state in which Grandvale is located as Oregon. However, I made up a fake name for the city for the same reason I did so for the city that Jeromeville is based on. There are things I will say about the people that Character-Greg met in Grandvale, who are based on real people I have not seen in decades, that I would not want them to see. Making up a fake city and university gives me some degree of plausible deniability. It won’t be hard to figure out where Grandvale actually is with a little bit of research, but still, I can treat it like a fictional place. The same applies to Jeromeville.
Of course, I want my descriptions of the area to be somewhat realistic. I still visit the city that Jeromeville is based on several times a year, because I live not too far from there. But I have not been to the real-life Grandvale in decades. I can probably augment my memories with Google Street View, even though that city has probably changed in the time since I’ve been there.
Also, the conversation about the Sundays with Carrie did not happen in 1997. I am currently in touch with the real-life Carrie, and that conversation happened in Facebook comments just a few years ago. But I don’t remember any specific conversations with Carrie from the year when I was a junior and she was a freshman. That conversation was funny enough to put into the story, plus it gave me a song to post.
I hope everyone is well. If you haven’t yet, go read the new episode, and like and comment.