Yay for November! It’s time for autumn leaves, roast turkey, pumpkin pies, reading books by a cozy fire and… the Gilmore Girls reunion special on Netflix! Yeah, I admit it, I’m excited. It’s no accident that it’s Daisy and her mom’s favorite show in the Agent of Hel books. I think it’s referenced a dozen times or so over the course of the trilogy, which a clever fan nicknamed “Ghoulmore Girls.”
It’s pretty obvious that I had a lot of fun with pop culture references in those books. Off the top of my head (mostly), that includes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight, Legend, The Princess Bride, Project Runway, The Big Bang Theory, The NeverEnding Story, The Blair Witch Project, American Idol, The Voice, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, the Saw movies and the Fast & Furious franchise; Kelly Clarkson, The Spice Girls, OutKast, Gwen Stefani, Justin Bieber and LMFAO; Facebook and TripAdvisor; Monopoly, Scrabble and Battleship. I called out the “magical negro” trope in The Green Mile, Driving Miss Daisy, The Legend of Bagger Vance and The Shining; I had boys on bikes pedaling hell-for-leather like kids in a Spielberg movie.
In one sense, it’s not the smartest thing to do, because pop culture references become obsolete. Some endure—I have a feeling the term “Scooby Gang” has become part of our cultural lexicon—others, not so much. Will we remember LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” in five years? Possibly not. But I wanted Daisy to be very much a product of our contemporary society, and that meant referencing lots of pop culture touchstones.
Gilmore Girls, though… that one’s special, in part because Daisy and her mom saw themselves reflected in Lorelai and Rory (well, if Rory’s dad had been a demon), and in part because that series did such a great job of evoking a sense of life in a quirky little town filled with off-beat characters, something I wanted to do in the Agent of Hel books.
It’s probably also pretty obvious that I have a deep affection for my hometown, the real-life Pemkowet, and in some ways, these books are a snapshot in time. A lot of the places and things I described actually exist, like the hand-cranked chain ferry. Some, like Browne’s Olde World Bakery, are based on places that no longer exist. But what’s especially poignant to me is that there are some that have vanished in the few short years since I wrote the books. The SS Keewatin, the passenger liner steamship that was a fixture in the harbor for as long as I could remember, was sold and moved to Canada. The hundred year old Presbyterian camp that inspired Skrrzzzt the bogle’s haunt has been torn down and turned into a development.
All things considered, I’m glad I made the choices I did. Cultural references that grow dated in five years will become nostalgic in ten; and for those of us fortunate enough to know and love this community, glimpses of the vanished past will serve as bittersweet reminders.
Anyway, a few thoughts inspired by our impending return to Stars Hollow!
In other news, don’t forget that the Longest Night Masquerade Ball fundraiser in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania is right around the corner on December 10th! I’ll be there, and I’ve donated a copy of Subterranean Press’s gorgeous new limited edition of Kushiel’s Dart to the silent auction. And in closing, I’m delighted to report that Publishers Weekly gave Miranda and Caliban, my forthcoming retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a starred review, calling it a “brilliant deconstruction.” I’m so looking forward to sharing this book with the world.