Easter eggs - The use of the term "Easter egg" to describe secret features in video games originates from the 1980 video game Adventure for the Atari 2600 game console, programmed by employee Warren Robinett.
And if you like them, well, you are in luck! Now, keeping in mind I finally thought of adding this section after I had written eleven books, it might take me a while to go back and list out all of the Easter eggs I've included in my books to date. Some are references to very real, living and breathing people. Others cross-reference my books, tv shows, and books I love. Others imagine a discussion I would have had if I had only known that person. In any case, here is where you will find all of the little stories behind the bigger stories.
I'll keep these in order by book. And I'll add more as I remember/run across them.
War's End - The Storm
Grandmother Madge, who Jess and the kids meet outside of a cave and end up spending the winter with, refers to a house in Kansas City. It happens to be my house. The cave itself is a composite of several Missouri caves and the thong tree mentioned is a real tree. Google "thong tree" - it's quite interesting.
War's End - A Brave New World
Penelope, Grandmother Madge's grown daughter makes her way back to Missouri and sets up a small medical training facility in her mother's old home. This is where Becka heads off to in Penelope's care.
G581: The Departure
Characters and their descendants - The ESH virus is named after Edith Sarah Hainey, the daughter of Becka and Joseph Perdue from the War's End series. Julie Lynn Aaronson, who appears in both The Departure and Earth, is Carrie & Chris Aaronson's daughter. Her twin brother is Fenton Aaronson, the captain of the Calypso. Julie Lynn and Fenton are briefly mentioned near the end of War's End: A Brave New World.
The ESH virus - My high school teacher's brother is a virologist and teacher. He helped me come up with the virus and its possible components. He suggested pseudo-rabies, which is a very real illness and for the infertility part of it, suggested I use the herpes virus. I will admit that Monsanto's chokehold on genetically modified corn figured heavily into my mind as I created a virus that would allow Eco-Nu to control the source and supply of pigs to a pork-hungry world.
I also had the pleasure of exchanging emails with the astronomer who discovered Gliese 581g and I shamelessly gave him a son and grandson for my own literary purposes. I hope he doesn't mind his new family.
I killed off a neighbor "enemy" rather spectacularly by turning him into a pederast and having him drink embalming fluid. Have I mentioned that I own a t-shirt that says the equivalent of "piss me off and I'll put you in my novel and murder you rather spectacularly?" Yeah, it's a thing.
The story Daniel tells Sam of a dead waterdog that accidentally slipped into his mother's blouse. This is actually a story from my own childhood, growing up with my mom and stepdad in Arizona. My stepdad had a boat on Lake Powell, near Page, Arizona. We took my grandmother with us once or twice. One night, after dinner, my grandmother had fallen asleep on the cushions at the back of the boat and I had been fishing with this waterdog all day and with no luck. I decided to try one last time for a fish. I flipped my fishing pole line behind me and let the fishing line fly. Just when I realized I hadn't heard a corresponding splash, my grandmother jumped up screaming. The waterdog, now cold and most assuredly dead, had slipped between the buttons of her blouse and the hook was caught on a button. By the end of it, we were all laughing. Well, except for my grandmother!
I modeled the CEO of EcoNu on a real woman I worked with at Marriott Distribution Services in Milpitas, California. The woman was a real piece of work and did her best to make sure I was as miserable as possible in my job. Thanks, Kelly. Kisses, hugs and a big middle finger in your direction.
My House and Louise Abney - In the book, Dean stays temporarily in a rented room in Kansas City. This was modeled after a very real house...mine. His landlady is Louise Abney, who was less than two years old when her mother, aunt, uncle and grandmother moved into the house I now own and live in. Louise grew up here, and we found her name scrawled on a wall in the attic where she undoubtedly played. She was a teacher, public speaker, and even had several of her speeches added to primers. I've collected them and they reside on a special shelf in our home library. In Fate's Highway, Dean rents the bedroom currently used by my teen daughter.
Walt Bodine - In the book, Dean is interviewed by Walt Bodine, a well-known television and radio personality here in Kansas City. I was lucky enough to meet Walt Bodine in 2008, and be interviewed by him, shortly before I wrote my first book, Get Organized, Stay Organized. Walt was active in broadcasting from 1940 through 2012. He passed away in 2013. I remember telling my dad about the interview and he was quite excited for me since he had grown up listening to Mr. Bodine on the radio. He was a wonderful host and did his best to make me feel at ease while on his program.
I briefly mention Liv Rowan in Hired Gun. Liv is the main character in the Chronicles of Liv Rowan series. In Hired Gun I mention a librarian that influenced Shane Ellis in a positive way when he was a young boy. The Chronicles of Liv Rowan are/will be set in the early 2000s and the story will end right before The Collapse that War's End series centers on.
The movie that Lila is returning from in the chapter Hitman was Crimson Peak.
War's End - Tales of the Collapse
In the short story Leave Now the main character Sarah is not only Jess and Chris grandmother, but she is also the daughter of Dean Edmonds from Fate's Highway. The mental patient, Cybil Zradce, is a Njerez, who you will learn more about in The Chronicles of Liv Rowan series. Her daughter, the missing baby, appears later in her own short story Other Mother. Her name is Natalia Zradce, and she is the mother of Nathan Zradce, a key character in G581: The Departure.
Smoke and Steel
As I mentioned above, I tend to put people who have pissed me off in my books and kill them spectacularly. In the case of Jeff Bonovich, the poor guy thought I had stolen furnace filters from him. I hadn't. I had ordered the wrong kind, and by the time I figured it out, it was too late to return them. So I offered them on our local neighborhood FB site as free and after a long online fight of accusations and angry defense of me by others, he apologized and came and got the damn filters. I told him I would be putting him in my book and he laughed. Likely still embarrassed over the whole thing, but hey, he got free filters out of the deal, his name in a book, and a really, really big wave took him out. I call that a win.
The house that Nichole lived in until the age of six is the house on the west side of our Airbnb, Cottage West. We call it Crazy Dale's house. I guess I live in a colorful neighborhood. It suffered a fire, long before we moved to the area, and still has open holes in the roof. And yes, Crazy Dale lives there inside of it.
I have a brief mention of Nichole and Vincent visiting Kessler Reservoir and seeing graffiti art, specifically SCREW. It's been a few years, but in or around 2015, SCREW tagged a lot of spots with his rather iconic sign. So much so that it ended up in the local newspaper. Unfortunately, the young man who tagged so many buildings in Historic Northeast was gunned down a year or two later as part of gang violence here in the city. He was just 14 years old. I've always wondered if he had lived, what he would have become. I'd like to think he would have become someone like Scribe, a local graffiti artist who is well-known and loved for his murals. I guess I'm an optimistic dreamer. Kessler Reservoir is a cool place to visit, by the way. Urban, decrepit, it gives off a disconcerting vibe but I think the place still has great potential. Once full of water, as the name implies, it is now drained and home to scrub trees, weeds, and graffiti. I believe folks also used it for swimming, but don't know for sure. My family and I visited it once and I've long said that if I ever write another dystopian novel, maybe with zombies, the reservoir will figure heavily into it.
G581: Plague Tales
In the short story The Drowning Man, I have them at the same cave that Jess and her group stayed at with Grandmother Madge in War's End: The Storm. This cave was also referenced in G581: Earth as the place where Ollie is buried.
The Glass Forest
The house in which Liv shares with her great-aunt Martha is based on my paternal grandmother's house on Shaggy Bark Lane in Parkville. Also, the house she shared with her parents in Kansas City is the first (and last) house my parents ever owned together before they divorced.
The Steen Tail River in Byd Arall runs the exact line of State Line Street, a street that serves as a border between Kansas and Missouri. Steen Tail is an anagram of State Line. Many of the locations in Byd Arall are anagrams of real places (and corresponding locations on the map) of our own world.
I based Liv's boss name on an English teacher I had while attending a semester at Rockhurst College. He was a lovely teacher, and did not in any way resemble the nightmare of a boss in the story. Sorry, TW, please forgive!