Saturday, November 30, 2013

Spooks, Character, and Place

Justin Glanville is both the president of the Munchen, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and a fan of John Bellairs. Well, that’s not quite right – he’s not so much the president as he is the town’s co-creator.

Justin (and fellow world-builder Christine Borne) are the creative force behind the series Welcome to Munchen, Minnesota!, scheduled for debut in spring 2014. Their blog lays out what makes Munchen special (“It is our Sunnydale, if Sunnydale were in flyover country and overcast 267 days of the year.”). One of their first posts pays tribute to John Bellairs and his sense of place throughout his stories:
...then there were the aging, cozy-but-spooky small towns where the novels took place. Bellairs himself had lived in both the Midwest and New England, and he used his memories of both regions to great atmospheric effect.

Lewis Barnavelt and his best friend Rose Rita Pottinger lived in New Zebedee, Michigan; Johnny Dixon in Duston Heights, Massachusetts; and Anthony Monday in Hoosac, Minnesota.

All three towns were fictional but based on real places. They all featured the shabby churches, factories, echoey Victorian houses and sepulchral autumns that so dominate the memories of anyone who’s grown up in the American East or Midwest. Of course ghosts and black magic existed in these places. How could they not? And in many ways, the settings were more haunting than the supernatural events themselves.
We already knew Minnesota was home to some strange sights - looks like we might have to stop in and visit Munchen the next time we're in the land o' lakes.

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