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I started rereading horror fiction the summer of ’06. It was two or so years since I had left graduate school, and it was partly in response to the realization that I had a new sense of freedom. There were no professors requiring anything, any more, and a lot of what I was picking off the shelf, I was appreciating, but not enjoying. Then, I caught a glimpse of Brian Keene’s “The Rising,” and I thought, “Hmm. Zombies.” George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” was and still is my favorite movie. I bought the book, read it quickly, and all of a sudden, I became addicted to horror novels — I hadn’t read any since 1992, when I first entered college. Months into reading horror and science fiction again, I started think more seriously about writing, which brings me to my next point.

I wanted to write about the places I had lived, but I quickly realized how that world is dead and gone. For example, the last two pieces of fiction that I’ve written and have been shopping around are set in Bermuda during the 1980’s. So is a new thing I’m working on. Why? Because I was a eleven year old kid, in Bermuda, in the 1980’s. Since then, the US Navy’s lease has run out, and so has it’s mission. That base, as well as the Navy Annex, has since been shut down and turned over to the locals, and a lot of the landmarks have been bulldozed. Even if I won the lottery, and could afford plane and hotel fare, I have nothing to return to. It’s not the same St. David’s Island anymore.

And it’s not just Bermuda. The American community has largely left Soesterberg, the Netherlands, as it has RAF Daws Lea in England. I was born in Germany, and a number of those military installations are gone too. My sister was born in the Azores, and that base is gone. My brother was born in the Philippines, and Clark AFB, just like the others, has disappeared. It’s a different world now. I grew up during the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Once the Iron Curtain came down, American strategic objectives had become obsolete, leading to what President Clinton called “The Peace Dividend” aka “Saving Money via Large Scale Base Closure.” Presently, even with the ongoing tragedy in Iraq, not to mention the corrupt, bloated Military-Industrial Complex, the Department of Defense is not as massive as it used to be. Off the top of my head, one of the few places remaining, that I lived at, is SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), in Belgium, and that will be around as long as NATO is in existence.

Theres very little fiction out there about all of this. Besides writing what one knows, I figured that, the least I could do, even if I had turned to writing monster stories, was try to recaptured that vanished world. And that brings me to my point. Researching that world and time is really hard, partly because there’s not that much written about it. As I said, it’s not like I can buy a plane ticket and return to these places. There’s no local library I can drive to, with it’s specialized archive and collection, with it’s dedicated librarian cutting newspaper articles out and filing them.

So what do I have left? Yesterday, in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, I spent a lot of time rooting through my parent’s attic, looking for photo albums, year books, maps, anything. I left with a huge box of stuff I had picked out, knowing full well that’s probably other stuff up there, waiting to be found. I found four yearbooks collected from the three years I spent in Bermuda (5th, 6th, and 7th grades). Not to be callous, but I wasn’t remotely interested in revisiting the pictures of my classmates — I wanted to look at the backgrounds of the pictures — the base chapel, the schools, the Navy Exchange, the landscape itself. Now, with the exception of a few places on the internet, it’s all I have from that time, that place.

Oh, and if one goes rooting through their attic, one should be prepared to find some really embarrassing photographs. This is me, on my 17th birthday, while visiting my grandfather’s house in Trenton, NJ. Why I’m holding a magnifying glass over the cake is beyond me…

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