CHIT-CHAT: Byways Places

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City Spotting. Details have always intrigued me, and so have words. I’m that former cereal-box reading child who still scans the fine print on everything from coins to candy bars. So I shouldn’t be so surprised about a recent trend in my life. I keep spotting Byways stuff! No small wonder, since in the research phase for any of the brothers’ books, I skim through the names of every city, town, borough, and county, along with likely rivers, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, parks, and landmarks. Even though I can’t necessarily plot them on a map, I’ve considered them for my plots. So they feel familiar.

• “Hey, look! This was packaged in Moosic, Pennsylvania! Love that name, but I couldn’t find a way to work it into Book #2 without it looking like a typo.”

• “Aaaaah! Owl City does a song about Brielle, and the lyrics are totally talking about “that dear ocean town” in New Jersey!”

Suddenly, I’m adding labels to my bulletin board. It’s like my hometown pride is multiplying every time I write another Byways book. Even though I haven’t visited all these places in the USA, I’m forging connections. This past week, I bought some legal pads for my daughter, and we spotted this…

Griffin, Georgia

“Authorial squee in aisle seven…”

This is an excellent example of how state facts shape my storylines. The name of one Georgia city [population 23,643] ensured Camilla’s and Byron’s arrival in Ganix’s first adventure. Hey, they even made it onto his book cover!

_04 Up the Mountain by C. J. Milbrandt

Incidentally, the city name is also why I opted to spell this legendary creature’s name as “griffin” instead of “griffon” or “gryphon.” Expect more city spotting posts. And give me a shout-out if you’re from one of those places that’s become dear to my heart! ~CJ

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