Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Eastridge High School

The All-American King opens in 1973 with the central character, Dave King, a sophomore at Eastridge High School in Des Moines, Iowa. I had originally planned to start the book with Dave as a freshman at Eastridge. After I had written nearly four chapters, however, I remembered that high schools in Des Moines did not include a ninth grade until 1979. Because I wanted my settings to be historically accurate, I could not let this detail slide. So I adjusted my outline and rewrote parts of the first four chapters, and Dave became a 10th grader. This change was well worth making since it yielded benefits beyond conforming to historical reality. Specifically, condensing the high school material from four years to three improved the pacing of the first part of the book.

Now, about Eastridge High. It is a fictional school that does not actually exist. Given that I attended East High (a real school in Des Moines pictured above), you might be tempted to think that Eastridge is a thinly disguised version of my alma mater. My response to such thinking is: What?! No! How can you entertain such a ludicrous idea? The two schools are as different as night and day. For starters, Eastridge is spelled E-A-S-T-R-I-D-G-E. East, on the other hand, is spelled E-A-S-T. See? Two completely different words, with different spellings and everything.

The difference between the fictional school and the real school is further underscored by their sports teams. The Eastridge High teams are the Braves, and thus are named after Native American warriors. The East High teams are the Scarlets, and thus are named after, uh, well there is an Indian chief on the cover of my yearbook. But that could mean anything. For all we know, the East High teams take their name from that Pimpernel guy who rescued people from the guillotine during the French Revolution. So again, as you can clearly see, no similarity between East and Eastridge.

I think I've proved my point. Next time I will explain why the mild-mannered reporter for our newspaper is NOT the caped superhero who flies around the city fighting crime.

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