Production Log: The Underground Empire of Joseph Wunderkind

So I’m writing a new novel, one that has been gestating for a long time, though it didn’t really take a nameable form until my April Fool’s Day post of last year.  The novel is based off a dream I had a long time ago when I lived in Germany.  My dad was stationed in Frankfurt as a liaison to the Army (he was in the Air Force) and we lived on a base in the middle of the city.  Base housing was in long, yellow apartment buildings, each with three stairwells and with three floors, two apartments on each floor.  All sixteen families had a storage room in the basement, which was a long tunnel that went all the way from one side of the building to the other (the storage rooms were directly off the main corridor).

The good thing about such an arrangement?  You could easily visit your friends on the other side of the building if it was raining.

The bad thing about such an arrangement?  The basement was scary.


Sure, there were lights, but they weren’t bright enough.  And the cement that the whole affair was made of was stained and dirty and cracked (and I imagine it would remain so no matter how heartily you cleaned it).

Because the basement loomed so large in my imagination, it’s no wonder that it invaded my dreams.  Namely, these dreams (there were more than one of them) concerned my having found a trapdoor in my parents’ storage room.  I would go through the trapdoor and find myself in another room, and that room led to another room, a whole series of rooms all jumbled together underground.

I figure there must have been some adventure thrown in, whether it was getting lost, or finding creatures down there, or simply the exaltation of exploration, though all I remember now is the image of rooms upon rooms hidden beneath the basement floor.

Of course, that’s what I like most about my ideas for novels.  They’re wide open.  Except for that image, I had no idea what I was going to write before I started.  No idea that one of the major characters would be a disembodied arm or that dust could be so vicious.

Tuesday I’ll post a teaser from what I’ve written so far.  Until then, here’s a picture (by FlickrJunkie) to get you in the mood.

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