Steven Shinder

Lemons Loom Like Rain Trivia

Chapters 1-5

Chapter 1: The Approaching Rain

  1. Writing the beginning of a story can be the most difficult part. This is why I write out of order, putting down the scenes I know first and then filling in the gaps. I knew the last action sequence of the novel for quite a while. And once I knew what the last words of the story were, I decided to begin the book with a bold choice. It might seem strange, but strange things can hook the reader. There is a reason that I chose to begin with “Rises him,” but I will not point out why until we get to the notes on the ending.
  2. For the “main main character,” I wanted a name that sounded like “modus operandi” but with the words reversed. I came up with Randy Moseley. I later changed the name to Morales, but I still liked the surname Moseley so much that I gave it to Mathias. I kind of like alliteration, in case you haven't noticed.
  3. Out of all the names that I came up with for this story, Mathis Dillard is either the earliest or second earliest to pop into my head. About May 2013, I had an idea for a crime novel called Preying Mantis, which would've involved an FBI manhunt for a serial killer who decapitates women as an act of revenge, inspired by the belief that all female praying mantises do the same to males after mating. I wanted the initials to be M.D. because the story would've also involved a medical doctor named Mathias Dillard. His first name would've only been written once to make readers think it's a typo, and then he would've been called Dr. Dillard from then on. The twist would've been that it's not him but rather his estranged twin brother Mathis committing murders. Over time, I grew bored with the idea of this type of story, but the names and the mantis motif stuck, though Mathis doesn't really have the same motive for committing murders. He simply enjoys them. His height had also been set in stone for a while. The outfit, however, came to mind in late 2018, after the first complete draft.
  4. For whatever reason, I wanted the university to have the acronym CPU. Like a machine, even though it was not literally a machine. I liked the word “copper,” and the image of a metal flower sounded weird enough. Maybe I was reminded of an art piece in the junkyard from The Iron Giant film.
  5. The use of the words “stand alone” was very intentional. The umbrella title Standalones and Stepping Stones can have multiple meanings. I like how it conveys that a story may be read on its own while also adding to this fictional universe I'm making. Over the years, the series title went through changes. At one point, it was going to be Speculators since people in general speculate about their own fates and that of the universe. I also considered Myth Arc, but that sounded too generic. I quite like how Standalones and Stepping Stones as an acronym is SASS. So perhaps we could call this the SASS Universe, or SASS-U?
  6. Naomi Clutcher's name was inspired by the word “nomenclature.” Given that she has a thing for making nicknames, it seems fitting. Her name was originally going to be MacKenzie, but I wanted to cut down on the “M” names. However, the name MacKenzie would return. Just not within the Nap Kin.

Chapter 2: Disorientation

  1. I held off on mentioning August in descriptions of the story because it would have ruined the joke at the end of the first chapter and the beginning of the second.
  2. Miunis Grund is another name that had been kicking in my head for a while. The idea is that there was once just one giant planet, but then certain events led to it breaking apart into multiple planets. While the specifics aren't really touched upon in this book, it's something that can be explored later on.
  3. I remember once seeing a picture of a red-tailed hawk's feathers and how it reminded me of a tiger. I really wanted to insert this line that mentions it, so I gave August a reason to think of it. With his interest in birds, I now had a reason that he and Cassie became online friends.
  4. I really love the words “beyond the blue division.” They've been kicking around in my head, but within the context of a different book. I'm sure some phrases may continue to pop up throughout the Standalones and Stepping Stones novels.
  5. I thought of calling the hotel Tree Culler Hotel after coming across the word “treacle.” It also doesn't sound far off from “tree killer,” which sounds somewhat sinister.
  6. Verner's slow walk toward the table with the soup actually happened to me when I was having lunch with friends at the Anteatery during junior year at UC Irvine. I didn't spill my soup onto the table, though. I kept the bowl pretty stable.
  7. Some readers may or may not have noticed that the fields of study aren't revealed for every student character. I just figured such info didn't feel so important. At least not for everyone. I had a hard time remembering all my friends' majors anyway.
  8. Jade Teal is two colors, obviously. And the surname is also a word for a freshwater duck.
  9. I use the word “lavatory” throughout the story because I didn't want to have to switch between words like “bathroom,” “restroom,” “washroom,” or “toilet.” Too many terms for one room!
  10. Cassie Julura is actually an anagram of Julius Caesar. Her room number is 315, like the Ides of March. 314 was my hotel room number when I studied abroad in Brighton.
  11. August's storyline and the supernatural stuff going on at the hotel came to me in September 2017, when I started staying at the Imperial Hotel in Brighton and imagined what a creepier hotel would be like.

Chapter 3: Come to Mansion It

  1. Coming up with punny titles for the chapters was more challenging than I expected. I wasn't able to come up with many of them until I was pretty much done with the final draft of the narrative. I really appreciate how shows like Frasier and iZombie begin acts with clever pun titles.
  2. At different stages, I went back and forth on whether or not Randy knew Frederick. The very early version of passages from October 2015 had a sort of “Proto-Frederick” as Randy's friend and in a couple of situations where Randy would end up replacing his role. Once I had no need for the character in those scenes, I discarded Proto-Frederick from the narrative. But this new version of Frederick was eventually incorporated into the story, as Randy's first roommate.
  3. It's no coincidence that a magnifying glass and ants are mentioned within the same page.
  4. The premise of Randy taking a loan from a guy he wanted to be killed by was the only storyline back when I started writing bits of this novel in October 2015. It was initially going to be a more grounded story, probably set outside of the fantastical shared universe I had in mind. It wasn't until August 2017 that I added more main characters and made the story more supernatural, which I think benefited the novel very well.
  5. In an early version of the story, Mathis actually did have a wealthy mother, as well as a beloved butler who was on his deathbed. Then again, this loaner character was also named Cres Moon at that stage. I changed his name to Mathis Dillard after writing the short story “Punch Buggy,” which turned into a later chapter.
  6. And here we have the title drop. Back in October 2015, the title was just Looms Like Rain, inspired by a typo sent by my friend Andy Mis in a group chat when he was on his way to LA on October 3. As the moon became a more prominent motif, I changed the title to Lunar Loaner Looms Like Rain. I liked the sing-songy quality of it, but it sounded a couple of syllables too long. On September 10, 2017, I made the silly Facebook post, “When life gives you lemons, squeeze them over your tacos.” Once I realized what I could do with this line, lemons became a recurring motif, and the title became Lemons Loom Like Rain.
  7. Vic's name was already set in stone, and then the other roommates were named Evan and Ted. Inspired by the word “evicted.”
  8. Yes, “Vic tore crumbs” is a Harry Potter reference.
  9. “Cafe lamp” and “facepalm” are anagrams of each other.

Chapter 4: Aboard the Grave Train

  1. Candid Du Clips was the last main character added to the story. Originally, she was just a side character hired to follow Randy around with a camera specifically to make him paranoid. But then she became more interesting as I imagined the type of character that would willingly and regretfully work for a villain. And how could I resist punny names evoking “candid duck lips,” “candy corn,” or “corn on a cob?”
  2. Something that I realized way later (before typing this, actually) is that the letters in CPU are in the name Candid Du Clips.

Chapter 5: Sitting Ducks

  1. Gertrude was originally named Madison. Again, I needed to cut down on the “M” names. The surname Yose came toward the very end, during editing. I knew I wanted a “Y” surname to justify Yo-Gert being Gertrude's nickname.
  2. R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books got me into chapter books in third grade. So I suppose it's fitting that geese would be in my first horror novel.
  3. I really wanted each side of Petal Lock Park to have trees that feel out of place, especially so close together. I've liked redwoods for a while, and after doing an image search of various trees, I chose silver birches as the other set. I also liked giving CPU a somewhat geographically ambiguous feel. It's somewhere on the west coast of the US, but I don't specify where exactly.
  4. You may have noticed the sentence “This one was not so fragile, so Peyton was could finally write her info.” The phrase “was could” in this universe refers to one being able to do something after the action has been delayed for so long. For example, one could say, “After putting off his essay, Bob was could finish it up.” And if hyphenated as “was-could,” it could be substituted for “has-been.” (And if you think this is me just trying to justify a typo, you're correct! If Rogue One and Solo can make a couple things from the original Star Wars make sense, then I can do this.)
  5. In August 2017, I was hit by the idea of supernatural ducks and geese, as well as the characters of Pamela Sheer, Peyton Sheer, Mantleope (then without a name), Stagmantel, and Unicoren. Bringing in this supernatural story thread gave this novel a place in the shared universe I had in mind. The novel probably would've been kinda boring if it was only Randy's story.
  6. I use the three asterisks to signal each shift in point of view. I think of this type of thing as a way to show that people, even when they are in close proximity, can feel stars apart. This ties in pretty well with the cosmic aspects that are alluded to throughout the story.
  7. In summer 2018, I was marathoning all of Cheers as I wrote much of this novel and figured out who the rest of the Nap Kin were. I started to view Lemons Loom Like Rain as the fourth season of a sitcom disrupted by horror. The history of Reginald and Naomi's relationship has somewhat of a sitcom feel to it, beginning with a “season” of will-they-won't they, followed by a season of them them being together, and then a season dealing with the aftermath of their breakup. I'd never write out these three seasons, though. I think it's fun enough to just imagine what everything was like based on hints here and there of how things played out.

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