My novel Excite takes place on a fictional college campus, but that location is grounded in real life. Especially the lab building where Jon and Isaac do their research.
Morrill Science Center at Umass Amherst is a notoriously hard to navigate building. Its labeled in sections 1-4, but they don't connect they was you might expect. That made it the perfect place for Jon to sneak around. I got lost there many times as an undergrad myself.
Soon, when its safe to do so, I hope to visit campus to take some promo pics with the book in front of the building. I'm excited to roam campus again, even more so now that its found its way into my fiction.
An excerpt featuring Morrill:
“Jon used a different lab room this time, the same building but a smaller room. He had to carry the materials out of the main lab, but he didn't want to run into anyone if he could avoid it. The old building’s basement was like a maze of oddly shaped rooms and twisting hallways. Even the numbering system hardly made sense. That was for the best; the harder it was to find, the better.
He had brought a cardboard box and quickly stuffed the ingredients into it, rushing but not wanting to seem suspicious. Down the hallway, two lefts and take the narrow door on the right. Room 56b. He was glad to work in silence. No one even walked past the window in the door. He doubled the batch this time, packing up four bottles of his now signature pink pills. He stuffed the bottles into his bag and the leftover ingredients back into the box and wiped down the work station. He had just closed the door when a voice behind him made him jump.
“Oh my God, Jon?” He knew the voice before he turned around. He wanted to pretend that he hadn't heard, to walk off and not even look back. However, the way the building was, passing her was the only way access to the stairs. She wasn't supposed to be here; no one used this place. He had to turn. He pulled a smile to his face and held the box high in his arms. Melissa was a good eight inches shorter than him; she wouldn't be able to look in and guess what he was doing. He looked down into the box himself, even if she had, there was nothing strange, nothing obvious.
“Hey Melissa, what are you doing all the way back here?” Jon gestured to the dim hallways.
She looked around and let out a heaving sigh, slouching against the wall she let her books fall against her chest. She looked like she was about to sink.
“This place is a maze. I thought I had it. I thought I found our new room only to open the door and find stairs, going down. I thought this was the basement!” She let her knees give out and slid down the wall until she was sitting on the floor. Jon froze. He didn't want this to become a big deal, but clearly she needed help. He knew the door that she was talking about. It had tricked him once or twice, too.
“Get up,” he shrugged the box over to one arm and offered her his hand. “What room are you supposed to be in?”
She let herself be pulled up and straightened her sweater as she told him, repeating the directions that she had been given. Jon snorted as he realized her mistake was another common one. Everyone fell victim to the buildings incoherent numbering system that the school seemed to completely ignore.
“Right. This is section two. You want three.” It sounded easy. “But you can't get there from here.”
Stick around for those pics soon, Morrill wasn't the only place I stopped on my mini tour!