Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Salton Sea

I always try to visit the places I depict in my novels--realism matters to me personally, and has also become a key aspect of my brand as a novelist. This is why I have a Photos and Places page on my website, and more importantly a Mistakes page--people won't trust you to get it right if you don't own up to getting it wrong (media, take note).

But occasionally a place eludes me, forcing me to rely only on books, articles, and online images, maps, and videos. This was the case with the Salton Sea and All The Devils. I came close several times, most notably on a monster 350-bookstore, cross-country-and-back 2006 book tour, but I never made it all the way there.

Happily, last week I finally managed the trip. It was surreal--both because of the place itself, and also because after all the research and writing, I felt like I'd already been there. Here are some photos. I think I got my depicitions right, but of course that's for readers to decide.

If you looked up “desolation” in the dictionary…

“He opened the door and stepped out, his boots crunching on what sounded like gravel but what he knew instead were the pulverized bones of a million poisoned fish…”

The view of the town, Salton Sea Beach, with my back to the water

The path Livia and Little walked in on from Desert Shores

Around him stood a few derelict structures glowing faintly beneath a low crescent moon: A broken-down trailer. A windowless storefront. The skeletal frame of a roofless house…” 

“'I’ll tell you why they like this place,’ she said. ‘All the deserted structures. Garages, burned-out trailers, abandoned houses…They have their pick of places to take their victims, and then take their time. Rusted-out vehicles, decaying furniture…it’s like a postapocalyptic junkyard…”

Parts of the town are still inhabited

Some additional resources (more in the notes of All The Devils)

A brief history of the Salton Sea:

And some haunting photos, too. Careful of the Lost America site—it’ll suck you in.

Great six-minute documentary film about the Salton Sea:

And the 2002 Tony Gayton noir film The Salton Sea is wonderful and surprisingly not well known.


Amsterdam Assasssin Suspense Fiction said...

I loved the movie The Salton Sea - especially the 'history of meth' in the beginning is hilarious with the dry commentary of Val Kilmer.

Cort said...

Love the engagement Barry! The Salton Sea is an eerie place. Lots of bad stuff could go down in that backwater - in that badwater really. Let's hope, though, the Sea is revived for so many reasons including all those birds. Looking forward to learning more about it and seeing how it fits in All the Devils.

A Fan said...

Livi Lone is a winner. You are really developing as a writer.