Their words have power — to heal, to kill, to change the lives of their “characters” in shocking and unexpected ways. Famous for their uncanny similarity in both physical manner and literary voice, their childhood rivalry spins out of control into adulhood.
The death of one at the hands of the other brings to light their troubling past — and a mysterious presence, watching on from the shadows — an authorial entity with roots beyond our time or dimension; an entity with far-reaching designs.
The pen is truly mightier than the deadliest sword.
I am really excited about this blog post today. One of the best parts of writing is not only creating the characters, but creating the world in which their stories are told. Mike Robinson has done a phenominal job of this with The Green-Eyed Monster! The detail and thought put into creating the fictional town his story is set in just amazes me and inspires me to do better with my own world-building. So get ready to get inspired and travel to Twilight Falls with me!
Your Guide to...
Downtown (It’s no coincidence that Twilight Falls has been dubbed the “artist’s capitol”, and you’ll see why when you explore this central hub of town, notably Gallery Walk and Writer’s Block [allegedly named non-ironically, but that’s unlikely]. Amongst coffee shops, bookstores, jazz cafes, antique shops and notable sculptures -- including “Cosmic Marionette”, featured in many postcards -- sits the home offices of the acclaimed literary magazine, Food for Thought. Downtown TwiFalls also plays host to the annual, internationally-known Mind Splash Festival, where artists from all disciplines and walks of life congregate to share their work.)
The Clocktower (Having stopped at exactly 12:12 during the infamous torrential storm in 1971, this small-scale Big Ben, perched atop the St. Andrews Cathedral between downtown and Island Park [see Sights], is now purely an aesthetic stop, but it’s worth the detour. Small guided tours take one up the dark, cobwebbed interior to the summit, where the town sprawls elegantly below. As you head up the stairs, be sure to note the odd strokes of vandalism. One of the stranger examples: ‘The church is God’s nursery -- the world His school -- Chaos His trade’.)
Peters Museum (Since 1953, the renowned Peters Museum has brought art-lovers from all over the globe to its unique walls, which feature a range of exhibits from late antiquity to postmodernism. Very often you’ll find more have heard of the Peters than have heard of Twilight Falls! Among many events, it is well-known as the “womb” of the Neo-Naturalism [sometimes ‘Neo-Cave Art’] movement, generally attributed to Northern California neighbor and artist Clifford Feldman.)
Agra Ruins (Of TwiFalls’ more famous locales and associated lore is the mysterious tribe of Native Americans routinely called the Agras, and nicknamed by some the “Anasazis of the coast”. While heated scholarly debate has risen over everything from their practices , their beliefs, and even their assumed historicity, there’s no doubt someone was responsible for the small stone village and erected monoliths standing in the woods only half a mile from town, verified by dating tests as being over 400 years old. Rumor has it one can stand on the central altar-stones and, with enough effort, wish into existence his or her desires. The “Agra mythos” is the basis for the Agra Circle, a group that regularly visits the ruins for mass meditation and other, allegedly darker rituals that have led some to dub them “occult”.)
World Cinema (Oftentimes, ‘classic cinema’ is a subjective term, and the World Multiplex Cinema near Midland and Pine Street certainly plays to that angle. On permanent reserve is one screen where you can catch the latest releases. More often than not, though, the World’s other screens are busy showing prints of films as varied as Citizen Kane and The Valley of Gwangi. As only the second theater in Twilight Falls, it wins for its eccentricity, and for its communal outreach: several times a year, the theater encourages votes on what kinds of movie festivals or marathons its neighbors would like to see. The continual joke, of course, goes that men, women, seniors and children, demographics of generally varying tastes, race to outvote one another. Somehow, though, no festival has yet to miss a beat, regardless. The name “World” is an admitted tongue-in-cheek homage to the Shakespearean Globe Theater.)
TwiFalls Public Library (Refurbished in 1971 after the storm, the “new” Twilight Falls Public Library, located three blocks from downtown, sports remarkable classical architecture inspired by the long-lost, long-fabled Library of Alexandria. Note the interior northern wall, on which is painted floor-to-ceiling an image of rolled parchments, stored in their individual compartments as they must have been those thousands of years ago. The inner courtyard, complete with a chattering fountain and shaded tables ideal for reading, is a great place to spend a sunny, leisurely afternoon. If books transport you partially to another place, the library will push you the rest of the way there.)
The Dirty Shoelace Trail / Falls Hike (Tracing the entire circumference of the town is what the locals call the “Dirty Shoelace” Trail. Origin stories of this term vary. Some attribute it to the trail’s oft-narrow passages through high evergreens and imposing redwoods. Others say it came from a time when the TwiFalls woods was inhabited by a rough-living “beatnik” community, and hikers would sometimes find old shoes and other items on the trail. Whatever the history or strangeness of the name, the hike offers beautiful strolls through dense forest, and is punctuated by several impressive views of the town and westward hills. It connects also with the Ruins Hike and the shorter Falls Hike, which takes explorers to the area’s namesake waterfalls, a well-worn place that to this day still feels like a pristine paradise.)
Geppetto’s Mansion (Nestled high in the thick forests above Twilight Falls rests this abandoned manor, popular with occultists, amateur historians, Halloween pranksters and weekend-blooded teenagers. The name ‘Geppetto’ comes from the house’s prodigious and downright bizarre collection of aged dolls, antique clocks, molding ventriloquist's dummies and canvases depicting everything from Mayan sacrifices to circles of Dante’s Inferno. The attic, perhaps predictably, offers even weirder treats, including a human fetus in a jar. Records show the house once belonged to a Dr. Arthur Feldman, actually uncle to the aforementioned artist Clifford Feldman. A psychologist in the 1920s, he was known around town for his morbid humor and affiliation with Madame Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society.)
Keller Avenue / Becker & Smith Museum (Along this stretch of road lies what are anachronistically called the “nest of golden eggs”, an array of the first half-million to million-dollar homes in Twilight Falls. The town’s most famous residents, the bestselling novelists John Becker and Martin Smith, grew up on this block, separated only by one house. While the Becker home is under new, private ownership, the Smith household at 3562 Keller Avenue has been converted to a small museum displaying memorabilia of the writers’ lives. In the gift shop, look for The Complete Becker and The Complete Smith, comprehensive anthologies of rare work. Published by the museum imprint, neither volume is available anywhere else.)
The Author Apartments (While popular destination spots, especially come Halloween, it was only recently publicly verified that the novelists John Becker and Martin Smith own and operate out of these apartments, which they keep strictly to themselves, and have never rented out. Despite their apparent isolation, numerous reports have circulated of noise and movement in the buildings, though it is not recorded nor understood that anyone else officially lives in either. Rarely is it that even Becker or Smith themselves are seen outside these walls. The pair seem intent on perpetuating the notion of “the creative genius”, willful physical and mental hermits singularly consumed by their craft. All well and good for us readers, we suppose.)
The Fleckman Home (The scene of one of the greatest tragedies in modern-day California, not to mention Twilight Falls, this ostensibly quaint two-story art deco home currently sits unoccupied, and, as indicated by the surrounding fence, is closed to visitors. It was here in 1986 where a local high school student named Harold Zwieg violently crashed a party thrown by peer Max Fleckman, unleashing fatal bullets into 16 students. The sheer carnage of the crime is nearly matched by its strangeness. Despite his death at the scene, Zwieg’s murder weapon was never found, and several witnesses, including police officers, described “shadowy accomplices in large coats”, none of whom were positively identified. Perhaps not surprisingly, the subsequent owners left within a year, disturbed by odd activity in the house. That was in 1991. Since then, whatever walks there, walks alone.)
Island Park (Not far from downtown lies this smaller answer to Central Park [or perhaps Vancouver, BC’s Stanley Park], a wooded vicinity offering leisurely, streamside strolls and two playgrounds for children. Towards the middle is a sizable manmade lake, where limited fishing is permitted, and the Butterfly Garden. Many a young couple you’ll find here, topping off their dinner and movie with a romantic walk. But like many stops in Twilight Falls, this dapple of serenity has its own surprises: in 2005, an early-morning jogger encountered a curious, 250 lb. mountain lion on its own jaunt down from the hills.)
DINING & ACCOMMODATIONS
Morning Light Bed & Breakfast (The cozy home of Maggie and Dennis Johnson has been operating for over 30 years, standing even through a grisly crime that occurred in one of the bedrooms in 1977. That room has since been closed to the public, and not for purely historical reasons: while there, some have claimed to experience odd voices, moving furniture and other eerie phenomena. For whatever reason, many of the most poignant reports have come from pregnant women. The room was featured on the show True Hauntings.)
Hotel Nebula (A worthy, independent [if slightly higher-priced] alternative to the Holiday Inn, Hotel Nebula opened its doors in 1939, the brainchild of business mogul and amateur astronomer Frances Gerhard, whose quote “The sly stars wink brighter over Twilight Falls; they know more” is immortalized in the plaque by the entrance. The hotel offers homey lodging, a pool, a conference center, a miniature golf course, the popular patty melts fired up at the properly-named Nova Bar & Grill, and, most uniquely, a small planetarium, where visitors can educate themselves on the surprisingly rich history of astronomy in the region. Some evidence suggests the enigmatic Agra Tribe were seasoned star-watchers. Of course, it didn’t take much for some fringe contemporary researchers to put two and two together and attribute their later disappearance to UFOs.)
Hu’s Schezwan Kitchen (As the only authentic Chinese restaurant in town, it might be a tad disingenuous to say it’s the best, but considering Hu’s was once listed #6 on Zagat’s Top Ten San Francisco Eateries, we think it’s appropriate. Edward Hu, who spent much of his life in the city, transplanted himself and his business to Twilight Falls because, quote, “I’d never been here before, but something pulled at my spirit. I felt replenished. Creatively, energetically, I was a child again”. Our recommendation? The brunchtime dim sum. Yum.)
Rosie’s Diner (In the mood for a big, greasy cheeseburger? How about quirky Shakes of the Day? 50s diner Rosie’s is a favorite among locals and tourists. Competitive eaters may want to pit their appetites against Mount Frysuvius, an enormous plate of steak fries topped with a pound of chili, multiple cheeses, sour cream, onions, garlic and jalapenos. Those of literary tastes will will appreciate the somber portrait of none other than Sheriff Gabriel North, rugged protagonist of John Becker’s crime-noir novel Brute Force, greeting them by the cashier.)
Rainbow Ice Cream Parlor (While its facade indicates a classic old-time ice cream parlor, one look at the unique -- or, to the scholarly, ‘postmodern’ -- flavors arrayed for sampling or scooping and you’ll bounce back to the 21st century. Or maybe the 22nd, with choices like Galactic Gorgonzola, Cinnamon Bagel, Berry-Apple, and -- hold yourself -- Fireball Whiskey. Their signature is the Butterfly Swirl, which contains famously secret ingredients.)
The town of Twilight Falls is known for being a “well of inspiration” for artists working in all media. And not just artists, either -- the likes of doctors, lawyers, scientists, even plumbers have all reported feeling “heightened” here, whether on a spiritual, intellectual, creative or emotional level. Inevitably, speculation on the phenomenon has touched on esoteric as well as empirical explanations. “God flexes a little more there”, says one local. “Power of suggestion”, says another. Yet others take to the old “something in the water supply” copout. Our take: couldn’t it be all these things?
Here is what some have had to say:
“This place has been called the ‘Valley of the Muse’, and with good reason. As a composer my head is normally swimming with music, defined or not, but in the presence of Twilight Falls and the majestic embrace of its wilderness, every sound is a note. Wind snakes through the trees in a whistling symphony…..For the musically-inclined, it is simply more than a town and forest; it is a birth place of inspiration, a fountain of youth for the imagination, where creativity is as endless as the flowing river and falls. Sitting amongst the trees and the rolling hills, watching butterflies and the glistening plane of the distant sea conjures feelings only relatable through music…..I am Beethoven in the countryside, coming to terms with his deafness as he pens the opening to his Sixth.”
— Joseph Willard, composer
“Stopping off at the small town of Twilight Falls during a road-trip up north, I felt an onslaught of ideas pour through my head as I parked at a tiny L-shaped motel. A passion had been ignited in me. I suddenly needed to write, which was strange given I hadn’t written since my junior year of high school, after my father, a semi-renowned literary professor, had blisteringly critiqued a short story of mine…..Yet never before have the words flowed so seamlessly from my mind to my fingertips to the page…..The place reunited me with my craft. A whole novella poured from me that night. Rough, but it was there.”
– Douglas Merner, author, Lighthouse Eyes
“I’d been in San Francisco for an art exhibition, and soon after crossed the bridge to Berkeley. All the while I was suffering from an artist’s despair I thought would never end…..yet as I made my drive back south I ran across a small town, about ninety-miles south-east of Berkeley (although to be honest it felt timeless and spaceless, like this was an extraordinary, one-time opportunity)….. For some reason I had the compelling urge to stop and break out my water and brushes and hot-pressed watercolor block. ....Within two hours I finished what is today one of my most prized pieces…..It now hangs in my studio, always displayed, never to move, reminding me of that brief affair I had with that place called Twilight Falls. Muses live there.”
– Camilla Huizar, painter / illustrator