My debut novel contains a handful of references that have hidden meanings. I wouldn't call them Easter Eggs, since they are almost entirely meant for my own amusement and I wouldn't expect readers to pick up on them at all. In fact, if you picked up on these, that's creepy. Stop it. Still, without spoiling the book, here are a few of my favorites...
"The Cromaine Formation"
Ryan, Tess, Lewis and Colleen begin their adventure on a rocky bluff overlooking the Cromaine River in Montana. This formation is entirely fictitious. However, the Cromaine Public Library is quite real. I chose the name as a small way of honoring the place where I first fell in love with books.
As a child, this stately brick library in Hartland, MI was a magical place. I recall rainy days beside the windows on the second floor, looking into the shaded woods while flipping through the pages of another dinosaur book (they had a great collection). When my eyes grew tired and my legs grew restless, I'd ditch the books and play on the giant wooden train set that stood in the middle of the room. On sunnier days, there was even an amphitheater outside where concerts where frequently held.
It's probably been twenty years since I last visited this library. I think I'll make a drive down there soon, see what's changed, and perhaps donate a copy of my own book to sit upon those fondly-recalled shelves.
I knew the villain would be named Eugene Barlow from day one. This is a call-back to a story I attempted writing many years ago, one of many false-starts I made during my teen years. The story was called Decade, and it was my first serious attempt at long-form writing. It was about an experimental stasis-chamber that had been forgotten in a laboratory for - you guessed it - a decade, test-subject included. The poor man woke up angry and confused, much the way I wake up every single day, and set out to settle the score with the evil Doctor Barlow. I never finished the story, but certain elements stuck with me. Eugene Barlow was one of those elements, and his character is much the same in Future Remains as he was in Decade. Real jerk, that guy.
Creegan is another call-back to my teen writing days, and there's a bit of a story behind this one as well. A sad, nerdy story. In the late 1990's, there was a British television drama called Touching Evil. It ran for three seasons (or "series" for those across the pond) and Entertainment Weekly described it as "Cool, creepy stuff." In other words, it was right up my alley.
The show was remade by the USA Network in 2004 and starred Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) as Detective David Creegan, a special agent recovering from a head-wound that allowed him to perceive patterns while completely removing his sense of shame. It deviated from its British counterpart in many ways, but I loved it so much that upon its cancellation (after only one brilliant season), I wrote a pen-and-paper letter to the director of programming at USA Network demanding its return. This letter would go unanswered. However, as I worked away on my own "cool, creepy stuff," I decided it was time to adopt a pen name. I began writing as Jack Creegan, and signed my floppy disks as such. I later ditched the nom de plume, but in honor of those heady days, I dusted off the surname and bestowed it upon my main character in Future Remains.
Okay, this one will get into spoiler territory, so if you haven't finished the book, skip this entry...
The Creegans named their daughter Judith and seem reluctant to use any shortened forms of the name (i.e. Judy) when referring to her. This is because our paleontologists named their child after the famous Judith River Formation in Montana. This site has huge significance in dino history, as it was explored by paleo-pioneer Edward Cope as far back as 1876. It has produced a long list of incredible animals from the upper Cretaceous, and I like to think that Tess and Ryan are the kind of folks who might find that a bit inspiring.
So there they are! Four sneaky nods to my own past hidden in the pages of Future Remains. There are probably more sprinkled throughout the book; these just happen to be the ones I inserted consciously. I wonder what bits of my personal cosmos will seep into future projects?