Dream Homes Become Fiction

Every now and then I go trawling through exotic “dream home” sites in search of fiction fodder, and I’m rarely disappointed. There’s so much that can be used… after suitable adjustments are made.

It would be silly to put a daydream directly into one’s fiction, simply because most daydreams start out as more or less straightforward wish fulfillment. You know, having oodles of money and buying that dream house (and everyone’s dream house is different, so you can have a lot of fun discussing that one with your friends) – but that dream house on the secluded island makes a wonderful place to use for your reclusive gazillionaire’s private retreat, and you can write your much more prosaic character being completely awed by how wonderful it all is – until that oh so convenient to your plot storm causes Problems that the two of them have to resolve (it’s up to you to figure out a convenient reason why there’s no staff on-hand for a place this big).

Or your conspiracy theory thriller can have the secret society holed up in a privately-owned castle to do their plotting. I’ll admit the idea of owning an actual castle has its temptations (what can I say? I am Kate the Impaler and a nice avenue of stakes to greet my enemies as they try to besiege my castle does have a certain visceral appeal). For that matter, said castle’s hopefully more or less accurate period décor can help a lot when you’re trying to visual who is doing what where in that historical novel or epic fantasy.

If you’re of a more down-to-earth bent and interested in uber-secure hideaways for your supervillain there’s always the former missile base conversion. These have the added advantage of being able to host your very own home-made missiles – as long as you can manage to fire the things without drawing attention to yourself, which is its own issue. No, they don’t sell them with decommissioned missiles, and I’ve yet to find any for sale outside the USA, but it’s a lovely thought, isn’t it? Your supervillian, his hidden base, his stash of suspiciously phallic missiles… Oh, the possibilities are endless.

You could, of course, grow your own, as it were. Find a nice-looking patch of land, imagine a castle or mansion or underground lair or whatever there, and go for it. It might even work better for you, since it would be indisputably yours.

So dream away, and use what you came up with.

41 Comments

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41 responses to “Dream Homes Become Fiction

  1. paladin3001

    Turning daydreaming into plot elements. I like that. Going to have to weaponize that a bit I think. 🙂

  2. I agree with this 1000%. I found House Beautiful an excellent research tool for one of my near future books: Brighton Chandeliers (they’re really cool), curtains of kid leather, and cabriolet legs. My favorite detail concerns the French painting over their ornate, gold-filigree ceilings when the Nazis showed up.

    • Kate Paulk

      I can completely believe that. Otherwise the ceilings would have been carted back to Berlin.

  3. Also, you can save a lot on Pinterest, thus reducing the stack of tearsheets jammed into folders.

    • I keep running across things posted on Pinterest doing various research, but can’t quite figure out what it is for. It does not seem to be a social media site, since I never see comments, just images. Is it some kind of on-line research folder? A scrapbook? What is it?

  4. Google Earth is your friend. I took locations out of there for my castle lately. Parallel Earth, and France has some nice valleys in the foothills of the Alps. I figured a deserted French countryside was a great place to have giant tanks light off their main weapons, and go drifting sideways through the woods at 70 mph. (With enough horsepower you can drift anything. 🙂

    The bad guy’s castle I think I subconsciously stole out of Beauty and the Beast (cartoon version, the live action one is unwatchable. So cringy.)

    I used to live in a really sucky apartment over a store in Toronto, that one made it into my first book. Can the suddenly 800 pound troll sleep at home in his own bed? Nope. Wooden stairs, narrow halls.

    The Angels Inc. store is a house I’ve been driving past on a busy street forever. The interior I dreamed up, probably a white marble dream from a Gucci store or something like that, lots of bleached maple veneer and stuff like that, very ethereal.

    Incidentally. I went to see Valerian last night. Stunning visuals, Same Old Plot. That’s what the movie suffers from, is the Same Fucking Plot that every SF movie ever made always has. The “plot twist” is that Humans are bad, like they always are, and the military is bad, like it always is, the two main characters are non-conformist, wisecracking assholes like they always are, shades of Tom Cruise. Maverick and Goose in space, side order of Dr. Strangelove. Plus really pretty aliens.

    This is how you lose $200 million bucks. Same old anti-Human bullshit that the Europeans have been peddling since forever. Change of plotline would have gone a long way toward making this a hit.

    • Carrington Dixon

      Beauty and the Beast (cartoon version, the live action one is unwatchable.

      You obviously saw the wrong live version. Jean Cocteau made an excellent one way back in 1946. Unless you can’t stand movies with subtitles, I recommend it highly!

      • I suffered through the beginning of the newest Disney version, before retiring behind my very large headphones and TV blocking screen. Emma Watson is a bit sharp-faced to make a good Belle. Just my unsolicited opinion. 🙂 The cartoon version is by far the superior offering from the House of Mouse.

        • Feather Blade

          The recent live action French one isn’t bad, and gives an interesting backstory behind the Beast’s curse. Development of the Beauty-Beast relationship is a bit thin though.

          Is available on Netflix.

    • Google Earth is the best for sorting out journeys across cities, and figuring out what people would have seen as they went from Point A to Point B – even if you have to cross-reference with historical maps. The only thing to beat it is actually going there and walking the course, but hey – I’m not rich enough to fund research trips more than half a day’s drive away.

      • Kate Paulk

        Google earth is awesome for that, especially if they have street view. You do have to adjust for historical times, but you can see how hilly it is and how rugged.

  5. Luke

    “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

  6. Readers interested in dream homes might find Architectural Digest to be of interest.

    • Excellent idea.

      In that regard, Taunton’s Fine Homebuilding is also very good. They have spectacular homes featured which tend to be of a different aesthetic than Architectural Digest. Looking at both would be advantageous, for a broader exposure to the field.

      Also worth looking at, the real estate listings. They have pictures! These are real homes, too. Sometimes houses pop up that have very odd floor plans and odd pictures. Good for haunted houses, poor people’s houses, weird off-beat character’s houses like the urban wizard or the demon hunter…

      Which reminds me, zombie hunter Alice needs a new apartment. She picked up a werewolf and a boy in her last adventure, the one-bedroom studio is going to get crowded…

    • Kate Paulk

      (makes note)

  7. Completely off topic but related to the formatting conversation of a couple of days ago:

    https://yro.slashdot.org/story/17/08/02/1825211/font-maker-sues-universal-music-over-pirated-the-vamps-logo

    They didn’t get licensing for the fonts. Oops. $1.2 million sought in damages.

    • Good luck with the suit. But yes, it does get back to “make 1000% certain in writing that you have the rights to [font/lyrics/art] before you hit ‘publish’.”

  8. I just wonder about supplying the isolated, remote super-villain lair. Minions have to eat, so the storerooms and freezers in the cafeteria kitchen have to be stocked with food. Other supplies like ammunition and various sorts of gear would have to be replenished now and then. Does the super-villain have a large and elaborate support operation for acquiring supplies without the suppliers realizing something’s going on? Or is Fort Dreadful disguised as something else so the kindly old shopkeeper who delivers the groceries every day in his old truck driving up the winding road from the nearest town thinks it’s some sort of scientific research station?
    I used to wonder if the entire staff at UNCLE headquarters went through Del Florio’s tailor shop at shift changes, or if that was just for the agents and there there was a regular entrance for the office workers on the other side of the building under some fictional name like Universal Exports or something…

    • Terry Sanders

      The latter. U.N.C.L.E was supposed to be some kind of charity organization. The tailor shop was just to let agents go in and out without people wondering what part of United Way they worked for.

      I played with a DR. WHO fanfic once set at a U.N.I.T hq in West Tennessee. There was an ammunition plant in Milan, TN, that ramped up for Vietnam and discovered a severe parking shortage (fewer factory workers had cars in the 40’s). By the time they got an appropriation through Congress, it was the late 70’s.

      ++So U.N.I.T built a huge complex under the plant, shipping their equipment in alongside the asphalt trucks and the miscellaneous “improvements.” Anyone who noticed the surplus figured it was part of the pork…++

    • Kate Paulk

      You would have to have it properly disguised and the research station is probably the best option. Highly classified, you know… best if you don’t ask too many questions, just in case.

    • TRX

      You do it right out in the open, and imply you’re a CIA or NSA black op, and it would be best not to ask questions.

      Bonus points if you get a three-letter-agency to foot your bills, too…

      The schtick has been used in a number of conspiracy novels, but it’s still frighteningly plausible. There are vast amounts of no-oversight money out there, and the agencies have revenue streams that don’t depend on Congress.

  9. Terry Sanders

    I once daydreamed of a Zefram Cochrane Club that bought a Titan base and built their ship in the silo. Nice to know where they bought it.

    • Kate Paulk

      Alas, the supply is somewhat limited these days… but they are still around. And one could still have a lot of fun making one of them a totally awesome location.

  10. The more real the house is, the more you can meld it into the plot. And my housekeeper is a nice lady from New Hampshire who brings groceries and cleans what little mess there is – on Wednesdays. Also woven into the plot. One tidy person is fairly easy to take care of.

  11. Bob

    One of the best parts of post apoc fantasy is the good guys’ able to use cool locations as fortresses against the zombie hoards.

    This one has kids surviving a mutant apocalypse using a natural rock formation and tunnels modeled after the Viet Cong. The setting itself is a character in the story!

  12. Interesting idea. Even though I’ve seen countless dream house floor plans from when I worked Summers in construction (and did one as a HS drafting project), that never occurred to me. So far, when I’ve come up with structures, I’ve designed them in my mind from scratch, thinking of what materials are cheapest in the region and the history of the structure and/or town, and sometimes the wealth of the person who built it.

    • Kate Paulk

      I’ve played with these ideas for a while, and using some of these notions for story fodder can be a whole lot of fun.

  13. The one I have lusted after since first sighting it:

    (To see the castle, go about 1/3 of the way in – and you might want to mute the annoying music…)
    One of the very few “modern castles” that got built on an appropriate terrain feature.

    • TRX

      Driving through I-40 in Tennessee you can see some odd hill formations that look almost like small craters. Some small enough to plausibly even up with some walls and cover with a geodesic dome.

      Something like that, you could make an air-conditioned, bug-free “outside”…

  14. This is not helping my wanting a property… XD

  15. In ‘R E D.’ John Malkovich’s character has this really elaborate home next to the river, BUT, his lair is accessed through a stair exiting through the trunk of a junked car on the grounds.
    It never occurred to me until just now how it would be possible to build an underground lair, in Florida, next to a river, without having to deal with flooding.
    But as for me, my needs are modest: I just want a kitchen that has storage space for all the coffee makers, coffee grinders, blenders, mixers, deep-fryer pots, crock pots, rice cookers, toaster ovens, toasters, can openers, George Forman grills, microwaves, and room for meal prep, which includes knife storage.
    And a reloading room.
    And an indoor range.
    And a cat door.

    • TRX

      My idealized home revolves around “space, the final frontier.”

      Say, a warehouse or large hangar, with attached living quarters. Space for an indoor range, parking, and all the tools…

      • The Angels store gets a garage. Underground. With a flip-open roof that takes up most of the back yard. They needed a place to store the Mobile Infantry jump suits…

        Having nanotechnology means you can make anything out of nothing. 🙂

  16. Robin Munn

    Off-topic, but: Dragon Award ballots have gone out by email. Voting deadline is August 29th.

  17. It doesn’t have to be a dream home. Back in the days of my internet comic, the setting was an actual house that I had lived in. Aside from the giant ants, of course.