There are a few reasons I set Dirt Circus League in an abandoned resort in the remote Cape York wilderness.
First, because I love abandoned places.
They have their own mystery about them, and I wanted to include that sense of danger and doom in the story.
Second, an abandoned resort has lots of useful buildings: accommodation blocks and rooms for eating, exercising, movies and more. Everything is set up and ready to use, even if most of it is falling down.
But there are two buildings I created for Dirt Circus League that most resorts wouldn’t have. Both are important for the story although for different reasons.
One is the Meat House. The other is the Memory Temple.
Constructing the Memory Temple
I based the carved timber exterior of the Dirt Circus League’s Memory Temple on the Nepalese Peace Pagoda.
Originally part of the World Expo 1988 held in Brisbane, the Peace Pagoda is now a permanent feature of Brisbane’s South Bank Parklands.
The Memory Temple’s main interior section, with its timber floorboards and a large open space, is based on a typical local community hall where you might go to a dance or yoga class.
In my imaginary temple, there are several small rooms off the main hall. These rooms were inspired by the confessionals in Catholic churches.
These private rooms, dark and windowless, are where the Dirt Circus Leaguers take their special items to “do their remembering”.
They are sacred spaces where feelings and emotions are intensified.
Drawers filled with memories
The rows of drawers where the league members keep their most precious items was inspired by this writing prompt:
Your main character finds a box of scorched human hair. Whose is it? How did it get there?
I imagined the box as a shoe-box-sized drawer and multiplied the single box into many drawers.
The “scorched human hair” became a plait of orange hair singed at the edges. Why plaited and why orange I’m not sure, that’s just what came up for me during the writing exercise.
When Asa, Dirt Circus League’s protagonist, discovers this creepy relic in one of the Memory Temple drawers she is compelled to touch it.
A powerful sensation surges through her that she can’t ignore.
This experience sets her on a path to uncover the true history of the Dirt Circus League.
The writing prompt I used was no. 12 in a list of 13 writing prompts created by Dan Wiencek.
I tried a few of the prompts but it was the scorched human hair that resonated with me the most.
In some ways, it created the core of the story.
So thanks Dan, you’re a legend!
If you’re a writer, or would like to start writing, try using some of Dan’s prompts.
It could be the start of a fantastic story the world is waiting to hear.