Here's a peak behind the scenes of Total Constant Order. While working on the book, I thought about a few places that represent Miami to me (not the stock footage on TV cop shows). The power plant near Thayer's manatee-lookout is based on Florida Power and Light, which always reminds me of a futuristic castle (notice the creepy playground near the chain link fence). They say that sea cows swim into the canals near power plants because of the warm waters.
Thayer's secret spot near the water. I remember kids cutting school to sneak down to the bay and smoke. I still catch them doing it today. The docks were torn down long ago. The tide foams against a barnacle-crusted chimney: the last remains of a hermit's house, tucked between the mangroves along the mosquito canals.
When you're a kid with no car, you either ride your bike or take the Metrorail, Miami's above-ground subway, which slides back and forth along US-1.
You can find Cuban food at La Carreta in Little Havana (I sat at a table with buttered toast and a steaming cortadito and scribbled down the menu: stuff like oxtail stew and fried plantains).
Cuban coffee stands. Order thimble-sized shots of high-octane java at the window. (Fin's mom won't let her drink coffee because it supposedly stunts a kid's growth. But even Fin can't refuse the syrupy sweetness of a cafe con leche, along with my favorite treat: sugar-dusted guava pastries).
Downtown Miami is a schizophrenic landscape: part industrial warzone, part glamazon...the streets peppered with construction sites and rising cranes, along with million dollar condos with one-word names like signature cocktails. Behind a hotel-in-the-making lies a mysterious piece of our past: the Miami Circle, carved in stone (whether an ancient burial ground, a sacrificial slab, or a landing pad for UFOS, nobody knows). It was dug up and re-discovered more than once. Now, after hiding under a condo for countless years, it is finally safe from greedy developers. Or so I hope.
Fin laughs at the palm trees strung with Christmas lights. To me, they seem perfectly normal. But unlike Fin, I was born in South Florida. We are growing up together.
PS: I'm proud that Total Constant Order was nominated for the Cybils. With so many amazing books published in 2007, it is an honor to be on the list.