Saturday, May 8, 2010

Yup, that's Detroit up there

I think Detroit's nighttime skyline is just fantastic.  But that's not the reason it's in the title bar for my blog.  Detroit is the setting for my first novel, Forever Freed.

I've only been to the city once, for a conference on African-American history, but it was still an almost immediate decision to locate my story there.  Here's why:

1) Detroit has an average of 75 sunny days a year.  That's a lot of cloud cover, folks.  And that's a good thing for all the sun-sensitive vampires that inhabit the city in my world.

2) Detroit has the 4th highest crime rate in the U.S. (2009 statistic) and in 2007 was #1 in murder rate, #2 in most violent crimes, and #4 in robberies.  All of this made for a good setting for some bad guy vampire types to be setting up shop and staying relatively unnoticed.

3) My main villain founded the city of Detroit.  For real!  Antoine Laumet, the Sieur de Cadillac, was a French explorer who achieved some political and economic prominence in Canada before founding Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit in 1701.  The Jesuits thought him corrupt and "evil," to use their own word from late-seventeenth and eighteenth-century accounts, particularly for his trading of alcohol and firearms to the Indians.  Their charges landed him in jail twice, once in Quebec and once at the Bastille after he returned to France in 1717.  The king ultimately pardoned him and gave him a political appointment in Castelsarrasin, where he died at the age of 72 in 1730 -- though not in my story!  In Forever Freed, he finds and strikes a bargain with an ancient vampire in the south of France who changes him and two of his sons, and all three return to the New World in 1733.  As the leader of the vampire underworld, Detroit really is his city in every imaginable way.

4) Detroit has a huge number of abandoned historic homes and buildings -- one source says this, "Detroit is known for one of the most stunning collections of pre-depression architecture in the world."  In my world, hero-vampire Lucien Demarco has spent most of the 60 years he lived in the city restoring historic homes from the turn-of-the-20th-century as memorials to the human wife who was murdered the night he was changed.  The vampire bad guys inhabit quite a few of the prominent abandoned buildings in Detroit (Lee Plaza, Belle Isle Boathouse, Michigan Central Depot).  AND, the incredible Forgotten Detroit website details the exterior and interior appearance of all of these buildings, giving me great visuals to use for setting scenes.

So, that's the whyfor of Detroit.  I'm paying it homage here, and in the book.  I always had this idea that, if the 'Forever' Series managed to get published and make any money, I'd make a donation to the Detroit Historical Society or Preserve Detroit.  Who knows?  It's what Lucien would've done.

Thanks for reading,
Laura

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