I got the idea for Cowachunga one desert night at the Hostel Cat, sitting on a bench hearing the whistle of a passing train. I was playing a flute and demon-chaser. Right about that time I had the notion that whatever interesting story I heard next would be the basis of my novel.
Sure enough, two Australian travelers on a road trip across America sat down and proceeded to tell me a tale of driving a rental car through the desert and stopping at an isolated diner. There was a twist that I cannot yet reveal. (The Mustang is not of that night, but of an afternoon in Vegas spent with a Swiss and a Parisian, rumbling down the street in search of topless beach clubs and exceptional pho).
SO that was the basis of Cowachunga, that and the one-day stop in Tonopah that cemented the locale in my mind as one worth meditating on. A town that housed Nevada's tallest building (five stories) at its silver mining peak and subsequently threatened to blow away. A town with a haunted cemetery (1901-1911, life was not easy) next to the circa 1950 Clown Motel. A town built plumb on a silver lode par excellence, with 12 mines spanning 20 miles that all had secret tunnels terminating under the Main Street bank. The car conveyance down to the pits designed by the same gentleman who designed the Cable Car. There is no Tonopah equivalent in the book - this was simply the nascent moment I knew the next novel would be set in Nevada.*
For all its desert ambiance, Cowachunga is to an actual place what the United States was to Kafka's Amerika. A springboard for the imagination to roam, traverse unlikely realities.