I was raised in Reno, Nevada, which I always thought I could put behind me, but…
You know how these things go. Nevada just keeps popping up in my writing, as a setting, a dreaded past, or even as a character. So many other writers have set their novels in Nevada that I did a little investigation to find out how their stories differed from mine. What I found out was, the state has cast its spell on many a writer in much the same way as it did on me.
When you talk about Nevada, most people think Vegas. And is it true, hundreds of contemporary novels have been set in Sin City (and Sin City North – Reno). Apparently there are more than enough greedy millionaires, soulless gangsters, cunning thieves, pretty heiresses, hard-nosed detectives, and clueless tourists in those towns to satisfy a multitude of writers.
However, when writers switch their attention inland to the “real” Nevada, it’s remarkable how the same themes have prevailed: travelers trapped in isolated desert towns where they are toyed with by evil forces (“Skin” and ”Desolation”), UFO encounters that lead to strange maladies and mental afflictions (“Strangers”), and doomsday thrillers generally involving the military or CIA.
I am no different. When I think of rural Nevada, all of the above themes seem remarkably plausible to me. I’m certain I ran into the arachnid shift-changers of “Scorpio Rising” outside of Ely, an isolated town near the border of Nevada and Utah.
Of course, I’ve only skimmed the surface of the many fine novels set in that other house. The one I can’t seem to escape. Apparently, once trapped on one of Nevada’s many endless roads, one can never really escape!
Coming soon: Whorehouses, giant red-haired cannibals, the many uses of bat guano, and aliens, of course, aliens. You can’t talk about Nevada without mentioning aliens.
2 thoughts on “Why Nevada…”
Jan: I agree there is a lot going on (or used to go on) in Nevada to inspire great fiction. Easy divorce, silver rush, legalized prostitution, and–lest we forget–the HEAT!
Love it – Nevada scares the hell out of me too ;).