I took a short break from work today and walked amongst my peeps. I went to Chinatown. Chinatown is a huge tourist trap. There are restaurants that serve food from every province of China. And along the dingy streets are little shops that sells authentic Chinese wares. Wares that you can only find in old China. There were back scratchers, water pistols, Manchurian queues (the ponytails) sewn in hats, cone straw caps for those sunny days, tea cups with zodiac symbols, Japanese swords, solar-powered crickets that chirped in satin green boxes, postcards of half naked men and women. Real authentic stuff.
The problem with walking amongst my peeps are the tourists. It's like 50% Asians and 50% non Asians. So I leave the beaten path and go up one street. Now, it's more like 90% Asians. I can hear the mahjong tiles percolating through a shut steel door, the smell of rot and herbs stream out of an herbal store, Cantonese being yelled across the streets, elders crowd into a scummy coffee shop (rumored to be leaders of a Triad chapter). Then lo and behold I find the Freemasons. Didn't think there were Chinese peeps in that organization.
I once took a cruise with some friends to Mexico. The first stop was Puerto Vallarta. The beach front properties sported souvenir stores, restaurants, and chain bars like Senior Frogs with tons of drunk Americans dancing and laughing. My friend and I decide to explore a bit and go a street back. Then the realities of Mexico hit us. Human stench coursed up our noses. Kids in gray rags walked bare foot. The only Americans we saw from the cruise ship visited a massive church, the only building in good condition. It looked like bombs destroyed the buildings and marred the streets into rubble. To say it was night and day would be ridiculous. The experience, however, was much appreciated, singeing the images in my mind.
I applied this to my writing. In my book, I've created a fairly simple utopia. On the front, every thing looks and works fine. But behind the scene, evil lurks that my hero has to deal with. More daunting, he realizes that this evil has lurked for most of his life under his nose. I think a lot of stories start out with a nice image. Then as things start to unfold, we as the audience find sinister things are squirming underneath neat layers.
I did this with myepisodes. The story seems easy enough. A researcher is sent to find out why a pack of wolves are devouring innocent people. But underneath someone is driving the events that are taking place. The question becomes, will our hero find out? Read them and find out.