I started writing the sequel to The Rising Dead this past week. To get in the right mindset and get the same tone and feel again I gave it a fresh read over before I dug in. It got me to thinking about some of the ideas that inspired the characters and scenes so I thought I'd share some of them with you – starting with chapter one.
Since THE RISING DEAD first came out I've had people talk to me about the opening Coronado Island scene. They want to know what inspired it, how I researched it, and above all else did I go into the hotel and look for the ghost of Kate Morgan. The short answer is my wife and I went on vacation there for a weekend, to celebrate our anniversary, and when I got home and started writing our time there started to bleed into my work.
The book starts with our focus on Poppy and Donovan, two privileged UNLV students who've gone out to San Diego for summer break. Living in Los Angeles I see a huge variety of plates every day of the week but over the summer there is a massive influx of plates from Nevada. Recently I talked to one of my friends who lives in Las Vegas and found out why – over the summer temperatures can reach up as high as 120 degrees! Yeah, no thanks. Vegas is brutal enough without baking to death! He told me locals often just go hang out in the casinos all day long for the free air conditioning and entertainment. He assured me the price of keeping his apartment at a living temperature during peak summer days would break your average middle class family. He explained that the other option was to take off to the beaches of California, the two most popular places being Los Angeles and San Diego.
Coronado is an affluent resort island community that's famous for the beautiful Hotel Coronado, the breathtaking views of the San Diego skyline, and some of the best pizza I've ever had in my life. Staying on the island was one of the nicer vacations I've taken in the last few years. We hung out on the beach during the day, went to all the local stores we could take in, and hung out on the beach. We visited the famous hotel, searching for ghosts inside, then exploring the herb gardens outside, and the looping tunnels full of souvenir and candy shops beneath, before hanging out on the beach. Later than night we took the ferry over to the Gas Light district of San Diego and had dinner with my wife's sister at this amazing Chinese restaurant. The more I write about it the more I think maybe it's time for another visit!
Back to the Hotel Del Coronado – did I mention that it is believed to be haunted? The sprawling beach hotel first opened in 1888 and soon became a preferred vacation spot for travelers from all over the world. Then in 1892 a pair of con artists named Tom and Kate Morgan had a falling out. Kate supposedly committed suicide by shooting herself in the head. She was found on the stairs leading down to the beach. Recently an investigation revealed Kate was murdered by her husband, a conclusion arrived at upon discovering that the bullet in Kate's head was of a different caliber than the one from the new gun she'd bought.
Since her untimely passing the hotel has been experiencing strange electrical malfunctions that cause the lights to turn on and off at random, telltale cold breezes associated with spirits, ghostly whispers tormenting guests, and even objects being moved around by unseen hands according to some employees. And is if that wasn't enough to give you the creeps there are handfuls of people over the years who swear they have seen Kate's ghost walking down hallways and standing at windows!
We hung out in the lobby on the old benches for a while hoping for some kind of sign but rarely do such supernatural spookiness present itself during mundane daylight hours. I kept teasing my wife about seeing Kate and trying to scare her but mostly I just made her laugh -- at me. She loves a good ghost story as much as I do. We never did see poor Kate but we did have a fun time looking for her. We both agreed that one day we will have to spend the night at the hotel, maybe even in the room where it all happened, and see if we can't have ourselves a memorable supernatural encounter.
You can read up on the amazing story of both Kate and the Hotel with a simple Google search. Speaking of which, here's some stuff I grabbed for you.
Here's a Google map of the area and its proximity to San Diego
Here's a shot of the Bridge that takes you over from San Diego to Coronado. Pretty amazing
Here's a shot of the famous Hotel Coronado
And a link to the site
Last but not least here are a few good links to the Kate Morgan ghost story