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From The Dead - Book Notes

From the DeadAs people read From The Dead, sometimes I’m asked, “Was this particular detail based on personal experience?” or “Why did you choose to design an event this way?” Here are some odd trivia nuggets.

Chapter 1

  • Why a preacher’s son? When people think of the most white-picket-fence family atmosphere, for many a preacher’s family would come to mind. I wanted to select a character that would seem the least likely candidate for this circumstance so that anyone could relate, regardless of how dire or light their own situations.

Chapter 5

  • Jesse’s neighborhood is patterned after a neighborhood I drove through in the Sherman Oaks area. The apartments have screened-in sunporches like Jada sits in.

Chapter 8

  • On one visit to Los Angeles, I drove in to the LAX airport on Sunday morning to catch my flight home. The scene fascinated me: during the week, it can take forever to get where you’re going; yet on that Sunday morning, we zipped up the highway without a glitch. Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the U.S. regardless of the day, so where did all the people go? I wanted to reflect that oddity in the book.
  • On a recent visit to Santa Monica Pier, the Ferris wheel indeed contained a burned-out bulb.

Chapter 10

  • I never found clowns funny either. I always wondered why people laugh at someone who hides behind a mask.

Chapter 13

  • My first draft of this chapter was woefully inadequate. My editor gave me solid advice on how to make it more realistic. (Thanks, Elsa!)

Chapter 15

  • On my first visit to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, someone had indeed stuck a decal to Elton John’s star.

Chapter 19

  • This chapter was an eye-opener for me. Very uncomfortable to write. Thankful to reach the end of it!

Chapter 23

  • Painting the clock tower black—a recurring verbal joke among Hudson teenagers. To my knowledge, no one has ever attempted it. However, at nearby Case Western Reserve Academy in town, in the lawn sits a boulder covered with a layer of paint is rumored to be an inch thick.

Chapter 28

  • Regarding black-and-white TV: Years ago, I babysat for some kids and told them I’d brought a hilarious movie called Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. Who doesn’t know and love that film? As it turns out, I was mistaken: One kid asked if it was in black and white.

Chapter 32

  • I didn’t exaggerate about the pork steaks. Highly recommended.

Chapter 35

  • I happened to live in Ohio when the Billy Graham Crusade occurred. I attended the Thursday night event mentioned in the chapter. The tone and visuals are based on firsthand experience. That was also the inaugural year of Cleveland’s new stadium, called Jacobs Field at the time, later named Progressive Field.

  • When I wrote this chapter, it had been years since I’d lived in Ohio. I needed to capture the ambience of Progressive Field—the visuals, the sounds. Lo and behold, during my planning phase for From The Dead, Cleveland advanced to the playoffs and I recorded some footage from the games from my home in St. Louis. Indeed, God works in mysterious ways.

Chapter 37

  • The restaurant merges the tone of two actual restaurants in Hudson: Yours Truly and Ted and Mary’s.

Chapter 39

  • At the time I wrote the novel, the last time I’d visited Lake Erie was in 1994 with my family. I looked over my shoulder and noticed some metal framework. From the looks of it, construction must have begun a few days before. I asked what was being built in downtown Cleveland. The answer: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Chapter 46

  • Caitlyn’s car scene: This is one of the first scenes that popped into my head as I started to plan the novel. The Michelle Branch song accompanied the visual.

Chapter 50

  • In all the books I’ve read and films I’ve watched, I’ve never seen the church environment portrayed as it is in Chapter 50. Tons of nondenominational churches like this exist. But church culture is often presented as bland, something many people can’t relate to. I wanted to present the opposite end of the spectrum here.

Chapter 63

  • I underwent a minor surgery years ago. Like Jesse, many of the preliminary tests were waived due to my age and good health. I understood why they waived it and didn’t take issue with it, but it certainly shocked me. That’s when I figured, “Well, no one comes to a hospital to die, so I doubt anyone would lie about it.”