Easter Egg Hunting

Yesterday was the official release date of Blast from the Past, the third of my “Where are they now?” series, which is always a happy event.

Normally I make a point of visiting a bookstore on Release Day to see the new arrival on the shelves, much as you’d go to the maternity ward and peek through the window at a newborn baby, but the weekly snowstorm up here in Massachusetts meant I couldn’t make it this time.

Here’s a shot out my back door, which shows why I decided to wait until later in the week. Or possibly next month.

That is a full-sized swing set, by the way, just to give you a sense of scale. So on the whole, I think it’s better to stay home for the day. And while I’m here, I thought I’d take y’all on an Easter egg hunt.

No, not a real one, because (1) it’s the wrong time of year and (2) the eggs would sink into the snow and not be found until July, given the way the weather has been. The kind of Easter egg I’m talking about are the private jokes hidden in my books and stories.

I confess that I have a weakness for inserting Easter eggs. In “An Unmentionable Crime,” which was set in a lingerie store, all the characters are named for people known for their connection to underwear: a man named Fredericks as in Fredericks of Hollywood, a woman named Vicki as in Victoria’s Secret, and so on. In both “Marley’s Ghost” and Mad as the Dickens, it’s Dickens character names, and in “Lying-in-the-Road Death,” characters are named for types of whiskey. (I was surprised by how many kinds of whiskey there are!)

I put in these private jokes because (1) they make me giggle and (2) I think they’re fun for readers who notice them. But I allow myself to do this if, and only if, it doesn’t distract or detract from the story.

Normally I don’t even tell anybody about them, but since I’m snowbound anyway, here are some of the Easter eggs in Blast from the Past. (And don’t worry–there will be no spoilers.)

  • The action star Tilda interviews at the beginning of the book is John Laryea, who is named for three of the leads in The Bugaloos. (You don’t remember the show that IMDb.com describes as “a rock-n-roll band with bug wings who live in a magical forest.”?)  I.Q and Courage were played by men named John–John McIndoe and John Philpott–and Harmony was played by Wayne Laryea.

  • The fictional Laryea got his start in a kids’ TV show called The Blastoffs, in which was about a pair of  brothers named Sid and Marty Blastoff. Sid and Marty Krofft are best known as the producers of a number of  kiddie shows, including H.R. Pufnstuf, Land of the Lost, and The Bugaloos. (And a tip o’ the hat to Bill Crider, who recognized that pair of names and mentioned them in his review of Blast from the Past.)
  • One thing I do in the Tilda books is to put epigraphs in front of every chapter, pulling snippets from books, web sites, and all kinds of sources. The thing is, not all of those sources actually exist. In Blast from the Past, I quotefrom Teenage Mutant Ninja Artists: The Best of Indie Comics by Jerry Frazee and  Saturday Morning Spree by Charles M. Luce. Neither book is real. The guys are real, more or less, and I drew on their expertise in comic books in researching the book. So I stuck them in as a real cheap thank-you present. By the way, in addition to being good friends of mine, both Jerry and Charles (who goes by Mike) are extremely talented artists and I’ve got plenty of work by both of them hung in my house. Just check out those links for a sample.
  • One of the producers of Pharos, the movie John Laryea is filming, is Joni Langevoort. The character is fictional, but there really is a Joni Langevoort, who I met via the convention Malice Domestic. Malice has a charity auction each year, and twice Joni has paid for the right of naming a character in one of my books. The first time, in Curse of the Kissing Cousins, I named a gospel singer after her daughter Katie. This time was Joni’s turn. (By the way, Joni’s name is misspelled in the acknowledgements for Blast from the Past, which was my mistake, but her name is correct in the text.)

That’s just a sample of what I hid in the book–I spent most of a year writing it, so there was plenty of time to sneak stuff in. I could tell you more, but I think it quit snowing and sleeting. Maybe I’ll make it to a bookstore to see the new book after all!