What’s Real?

You may be wondering: How much of the physical setting of Auckland Allies is real?

The answer to that is a bit like my Irish great-grandmother’s approach to confession. “Sure, and I’ve committed every sin but murder,” she told the priest (according to family legend). Her explanation was simple: “It was quicker to tell him what I hadn’t done than what I had done.”

Accordingly, here are the bits of the setting that either aren’t real, or have been renamed and otherwise changed for my legal protection. Every other place you read about in these books exists, and is much the way I describe it, including all the public places. (That's why you can see them on Google Maps on the Maps page.)

  1. Any homes, including places rented by the Ennead, are not based on specific addresses in the real world. They’re loosely accurate in terms of the types of houses or apartments in the area described, though Sally's house is a bit larger than most real houses in her neighbourhood.
  2. I have deliberately not researched anything relating to security, physical or digital, for any real-world place (because most organisations take a dim view of people researching their security vulnerabilities and then writing about them). I have just invented any security-related details in a way that fits the story I'm telling.
  3. The sleazy Mulcahy’s Bar on K Road, where Pigeon hangs out, doesn’t exist, though there are some sleazy bars there. I named it after an old boss, purely because he had such a great Irish name, and not because he was or is in any way sleazy.
  4. The Partington Hotel in Auckland Allies 2: Ghost Bridge stands in the same place as a luxury hotel in the real world, on the site of Partington's flour mill, which is where I got the name. Anything which can be taken to depict the hotel in any negative light should be assumed to be invented, especially if you are a lawyer for the hotel.
  5. The warehouse that the Allies rent, starting in Auckland Allies 3: Unsafe Harbour, is based on a real location, but not closely based on it (by which I mean I have a group of warehouses in mind, but I've only seen them from the road and don't know what they look like inside).
  6. Prince Albert's College, mentioned in Auckland Allies 3: Unsafe Harbour as the secondary school attended by Dan and Jay, has some approximate resemblance to a specific real-world private school, but isn't that school and doesn't actually exist.

Beyond the physical setting, are the characters based on anyone?

I deliberately chose fairly common names for the main characters, who are ordinary-ish people punching above their weight. Inevitably, this means that there will be real-life people with those names, but if one of them is your name, I didn't base them on you.

In particular, Sarah Brown (Steampunk Sally) is not named after my sometime social media acquaintance of the same name, or after the wife of former British prime minister Gordon Brown. She is named after someone, though: a character in my favourite webcomic, El Goonish Shive.

Andrew McKenzie (Sparx) gets his surname from Brett McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords, whose character in that show is a little like how Sparx starts out, but he's Andrew because Andrew is a very common NZ name (I knew about nine Andrews when I was at university, and even though Sparx is a generation younger, I think it's still fairly common).

I took the surname for Anna Callahan (Tara) from a friend, but mainly because of another friend making the link to Dirty Harry Callahan. Her personality is largely based on the snarky part of myself that I try never to give access to speech or writing, though she is a bit like my sister Sybil in her pragmatic, unsentimental attitude. It's not an uncommon type among New Zealand women, though I've never met anyone who's actually as rude as Tara.

Lynn Gregory is named after someone, a friend from the late lamented Google+ named Gregory Lynn, who, like her, is a huge Buffy fan who has lived in Boston. Apart from that they're not at all similar.

Daniel Lennox just struck me as a typical name for someone of Scottish descent.

Craig Kelso, the tech billionaire in Book 3, isn't named after anyone in particular.

And Bennett Jackson (Jay), the Maori doctor who appears first in the third book, is named in honour of the son of a neighbour of ours in the road where I grew up, who sadly died in a freak accident in his teens. His names, as with Lynn, went the other way round, though.

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