Why did I call my book Midnight in New California? My first answer is that I don’t remember. I thought of the title in November 2016 before I began writing the book, and never seriously reconsidered.
The “New California” part is obvious. The book takes place in 2032 in San Francisco, ten years after California secedes from the U.S. and calls itself “New California.”
But why midnight?
Midnight. The end of a day, or an era. Or a transition. An ending, before the dawn of something new. America’s last fling with democracy.
Midnight. The time when people aren’t their daytime selves. Maybe they’re asleep, vulnerable, and dreaming. Or maybe they’re drunk and dancing to 2000’s hip hop* and making out with a woman who is not their spouse. Or maybe they’re drinking by themselves on the rooftop deck of their multi-million dollar Victorian house in San Francisco wondering if the government drones are spying on them.
Primarily, I was thinking of that version.
There is also the thing in Cinderella involving midnight. I don’t recall the whole story, but there was something about an attractive young woman who transcends class barriers in a society in which that’s difficult to do, but at midnight, everyone’s going to figure it all out if she doesn’t get home. When she wears a gown and rides in a special chariot, no one knows she’s not one of them. I don’t remember the story and didn’t bother to google it (so I certainly won’t bother now), but totally thought of it when conceiving of the main character’s love interest, “Ashley.”
While conceiving of the story itself, Caravan Palace’s robot album (see “the story behind the story”) became the soundtrack. The songs “Midnight,” and “Wonderland” the dance between the utopian/dystopian world I was creating. Is New California really the wonderland utopia it’s sold as or is Cora just drunk? Well, the book is called Midnight in New California.
I wondered if using the word was cheesy, or made it seem more dystopian than I intended. Ultimately, I wanted to show the main character’s secret dreamy world, the ambitious hope of her love interest, and to make a point about the danger of taking freedom and democracy for granted.
*My editor (yes Amazon reviewers, I did hire an editor for my book!) removed the quote from “Back That Azz Up” that originally ended chapter three.