Readers’ Questions About Birch Hills

Birch Hills at World’s End has been out a couple of weeks now, and I’m starting to get a few questions about the story from readers online and at events. I’ll answer a few here, and if more come up I’ll do my best to answer them in future posts.

How much of Birch Hills at World’s End is true?

After reading the first chapter at The Chicago Way series, a very nice man approached me and asked me how I knew when I’d found a story I “needed to tell.” After some talking, I realized he didn’t mean this conceptually, he meant it experientially—as in “How can you tell when something happens that you need to make into a story?” He seemed a bit shocked to find out there was no real-life analog to the Imperial Dragon Waffle Palace and the events detailed there—and a little disappointed. Some of the story has been drawn from my own experiences, sure, but it has been so heavily fictionalized that the events and characters have no corresponding “real world” equivalent.

Is “All Guns Blazing” a real game?

No. AGB is a fictional hex-based tabletop wargame.

Why do you use real business and trade names sometimes and other times use made-up ones? It seems inconsistent.

Birch Hills is a sort of “bent realist” novel dealing with the everyday weird. Some of the stranger events in the book are drawn from fact, while some of the more domestic and normal situations are pure fiction.  Birch Hills as a town is a semi-fictional setting, so I thought it made sense for that to be reflected in the naming conventions.

The rumor about Pink Dick and the cat really upset me. How did you think of something so awful?

One reader said this brief anecdote gave her nightmares. It was a rumor that circulated about a student in my own high school. I’ve heard it repeated about other people in other locales since, so I think it’s a sort of urban legend, like the kid who ate Pop Rocks and drank Coke at the same time and his stomach exploded.

Is the gun Erik tries to buy from the house by the lake the same one used in the crime at the end?

Good eyes. Yes it is.

What happens with Erik’s band, The Schoolyard Gunmen, after the book?

It hasn’t been written yet. Apparently they have some sort of following, though.

If you have any more questions, please feel free to drop me a note on the blog. I’ve really appreciated hearing from you guys. Thanks for reading.

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