When I first heard of Apocalypse Weird and read the initial book descriptions for the upcoming novels, I had one thought: they’re all in North America. (Okay, Jennifer Ellis’ Reversal was in the arctic—and the Antarctic, come to think of it).
Before the plot for The Seal Bearer was even formed in my head, I knew the setting for my novel. My strategy was simple:
Go where the people are.
A quick Google search will tell you that of the roughly 7 billion people on Earth, only 529 million live in North America. Yep, that’s right, from the tippy-top of Canada all the way down to the Panama Canal contains only about 7.5% of the world’s population.
This my shot, I thought. I can claim all of Southeast Asia!
Here’s a few of the places I had in my head as I was writing.
Write What You Know – Singapore
My family and I lived in Singapore during the 2007-8 school year and I traveled extensively throughout Asia on business for about five years. I knew right off the bat that my AW novel was going to be set in this wonderful city-state.
The spaceship-looking Marina Bay Sands was being built when I lived in Singapore. It’s a breath-taking 656-feet above the city with an entire park on top of the structure. You can also get a real good look at the harbor from the bar, which is what I needed it for…
But Singapore is an island, and a pretty small one at that, only 277 square miles. (By contrast, Rhode Island is 1212 square miles). If TEOTWAWKI breaks out in a densely populated island, you’re probably going to want to bug out as quickly as possible.
Fortunately, a short trip across the Johor Strait puts you on the Malyasian peninsula, where you’ve got some room to maneuver away from whatever’s chasing you. No trip to Malaysia is complete with a stop in Kuala Lumpur and its famous Petronas Towers.
Another Malaysian hotspot that I’ve been to more times than I can count is Penang, a small mountainous island on the western side of the peninsula. Unlike Singapore, Penang Island is separated from the mainland by an 8.5-mile bridge. That works fine as long as the bad guys don’t come from the sea…
If you want imagery worthy of an AW novel, go to Bangkok. The Seal Bearer makes a pitstop there, but most of the action is indoors.
Then there’s a train ride to the northern city of Chiang Mai. High above Chiang Mai sits Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (wat is the Thai word for “temple”). Leading up to the temple is the Naga Staircase, a long set of steps with a flanked by the bodies of serpents.
The word Naga comes from the Sanskrit and is the word for a snake-like deity throughout the region. (You’ll recall that the cobra in “Rikki-tikki-tavi” from The Jungle Book was named Nag. Also, the snake in Harry Potter was called Nagini, the feminine version.)
And finally, we’re on to China. I’ve been to China many times, but not to this exact spot. I like to call it “the Gateway to Shambhala.”
There you have it, a few mental images to take with you when you read The Seal Bearer, lucky 13 in the Apocalypse Weird lineup.
And did I mention how much I love this cover?
Go on, get a copy for 99 cents, you know you want to…
David Bruns is the creator of the sci-fi series The Dream Guild Chronicles, one half of the Two Navy Guys and a Novel blog series about co-writing a military thriller, and co-author of Weapons of Mass Deception, a story of modern-day nuclear terrorism.