Welcome to the Investigating Julius Drake blog tour! I’m Daisy, the author, and I’ll be sharing excerpts from the book, as well as extra information about the characters, location and story. Up until recently, Seattle was my home town, and I’ve stolen plenty of locations and institutions as settings for Investigating Julius Drake. Together, we’ll take a tour through the twisty-turny, damp and caffeine-addled world that my protagonist, Henry Walker, finds himself in. Grab yourself a double, almond, split-shot, extra-foam latte, pull up a chair, and join us! And don’t forget to comment for a chance to win a $30 Starbucks gift card. Drink like a Seattleite and enjoy.
Similarities are Purely Coincidental: Real and Not-So-Real in Investigating Julius Drake
Setting my young adult novel, Investigating Julius Drake, in Seattle was a no-brainier. At the time, I lived in Seattle. And having a kid around the age of my hero Henry, I knew pretty well what high school freshmen south of the Ship Canal bridge were up to. The only problem was mixing reality and fantasy in reasonable measures, because although I wanted to give the book a Seattle flavor, I didn’t want to set it someplace so genuine that I could make actual Seattleites uncomfortable. So, in Investigating Julius Drake, I mixed a little bit of reality and a big dash of fantasy.
Take Clinton Academy, for example. It’s Julius Drake and Henry Walker’s school. Clinton Academy is not a real place. However, there is a school called The Bush School, and I located Clinton in approximately the same part of town. The Bush School is widely known to be one of the best schools in the area, but that’s basically all I know about it. The teachers, classes and structure of the building I made up based on what I know of other private schools in the region.
Then there’s the Madison Park Starbucks where Henry, Julius and Bethany regularly get coffee. Now, that does exist. In fact, the Madison Park Starbucks was the first Starbucks in the country. Kids from the surrounding schools are always hanging out there and at the ice cream shop across the street. Madison Park is a lovely part of town, and is indeed near a beach and a playground. So basically, I stole that neighborhood and used it lock, stock and barrel.
Nathan Hale, where Henry and Julius go repeatedly to spy on Zoe Ward, is a real high school, but I improvised everything about it. Likewise, the Fremont Bridge exists, but I took liberties with its safety features. While I spoke of real parts of town, I tended to fudge the distances between them. With Seattle traffic nowadays, it could take an hour to get from the location of Clinton Academy to where Todd’s house was supposed to be in Queen Anne. In Investigating Julius Drake, I made it seem like maybe 15 minutes.
There’s a long history, though, of fictionalizing Seattle in popular culture. When watching the wonderful TV show The Killing, my husband and I often wonder exactly where the characters were supposed to be driving. For example, in one season finale, the scarlet-haired heroine “drove all night,” and we wondered where on earth she could have gone since Seattle’s simply not that big. An all night drive would get you to Canada or Oregon, and possibly all the way to Idaho depending on the time of year. Perhaps she was supposed to be driving in circles. But even then… Did she go to Mount Rainier? The world may never know.
The grunge era gave the world the mistaken impression that Seattle is a really huge place. But in truth, it’s a fairly small city. Sure, it’s grown since the days of Kurt Cobain, but Seattle’s population only matches that of Las Vegas and its density more like Buffalo than Brooklyn. So me and other authors tend to make Seattle seem more exciting than it actually is.
One of the things in Julius Drake that was actually real was Julius’ house. It’s based on the home of a friend of a friend. They’re a nice family and would probably be flattered that I used their place as a template for the home of the uber rich Drakes. But while most things at Julius’ house are based on reality, his indoor koi pond was not. In fact, I suspect that koi can’t survive indoors. But that didn’t stop me from using that fanciful notion in the book.
Have you ever wondered whether a location in a book was real or made up? Which do you prefer? Comment below for a chance to win a genuine Seattle Starbucks gift card!
About the Book
After arriving at Seattle’s prestigious Clinton Academy, fourteen-year-old Henry Walker realizes he won’t fit in. If he’s going to run with the rich and powerful, he’ll have to hide his modest background, his lack of interest in girls, and most importantly, his fascination with his handsome but troubled classmate Julius Drake.
When Julius draws Henry into the investigation of a classmate’s suicide attempt, Henry can’t resist the case—or Julius. Soon, Henry’s not only facing the truth about his feelings for Julius, but also risking his life to unmask a social media imposter. “The Other Woman” is manipulating his classmates, searching out their vulnerabilities, and driving them to desperate actions. Julius himself is at risk, what with his callous parents threatening to send him away, and his mental health taking a beating both at school and at home.
If Henry’s going to save the day and get the boy of his dreams, he’ll have to stop worrying what everyone thinks and stop pretending to be someone he’s not. Most of all, Henry will have to be honest about who he loves.
About the Author
Born into the psychedelic wonder that was the seventies, Daisy Harris has had an interesting life so far. She’s been to Catholic school and Ramones concerts, danced to MC Hammer and Flo Rida, made the honor roll and Phi Beta Kappa, survived cholera, faced bed bugs, and she’s been a hair’s breadth from shipwreck twice. (Three times, if you count sea kayaks!)
Daisy has been a lifelong reader, devouring romance, young adult, urban fantasy, and nonfiction alike. In her professional life, she’s written medical copy and edited scientific papers. However, since 2012, she’s devoted her energy to writing gay romance full-time. That’s okay, because now on the weekends she reads medical studies for fun.
As far as Daisy’s concerned, the best things in life happen by accident. Though she’s gotten better at planning over the years, she still writes, lives, and plays by the seat of her pants. Her books are a happy mix of mysteries, romantic comedies, and coming-of-age stories, more often than not inspired by the great films of the 1980s.
Daisy lives in Seattle in a house full of dogs and children. When she’s not writing gay fiction, she can be found riding her exercise bike and testing the outer boundaries of her food processor’s potential. Every once in a while, she goes out to pay homage to the party gods of her youth—and maybe to find a little trouble.
To celebrate the release of Investigating Julius Drake, one lucky winner will receive a $30 Starbucks Gift Card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 8, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!