Yermo, You Say?

February 9, 2014

Real, or not so Real

This Way to Yermo

This Way to Yermo

Yermo, CA is a place one of my characters, Hubert James Champion III, is rather fond of. Hugh’s Yermo, of course is a fictional concatenation of tidbits bouncing around in my brain–but there does exist a real Yermo. There’s also an Oak Tree Inn, and a Penny’s Diner. (both mentioned in my books)

When I was at Penny’s the last time, my thoughts went to my current work-in-progress, Rhodes, where I’ve created a non-existent town in a stretch along Route 66 I’m rather fond of. I kind of like that, no reality to deal with. And from there, I started thinking about how I like writing that “takes you there,” but only gives you the details necessary to form your own picture, smell your own smells, hear your own sounds of rail-cars clanking down the track… It’s a goal I hold in front of me all the time. Tantalize, don’t tell.

Me and Betty Jean, the fantastic waitress at Penny's

Me and Betty Jean, the fantastic waitress at Penny’s

Like Hugh, I’m also fond of Yermo, and on this blog, I  wanted to talk about and show pictures of the “reality” I know as Yermo. BUT, I hesitated, thinking the real Yermo is not the Yermo of my stories. Real pictures versus fictional pictures. Maybe destroy some readers images? To me, it’s an interesting literary tightrope–and the balancing sometimes is tricky. Especially, when I think the images we form in our minds of characters and places using both the author’s “sketches” then drawing upon our own experiences to complete are the most powerful.

And for sure, there’s the pure imagination part of all of this. I haven’t seen a two-story building in Yermo, however the Mojave County Sheriff’s Department  rises to that lofty height. (there also isn’t a Mojave County–Yermo is in San Bernardino County)

Penny’s breakfasts are great by the way, hash browns that are toasty and brown, eggs over perfect, bacon, orange juice…you get the picture and smells….(smile)

First scene in Reticence of Ravens is imagined here--Julian Bogard's first taste of the Mojave

First scene in Reticence of Ravens is imagined here–Julian Bogard’s first taste of the Mojave

And Calico Ghost Town isn’t too far away…

13 Responses to “Yermo, You Say?”

  1. I enjoyed seeing the real thing. Of course, when I read your books, I have my imagined version in my head.

  2. mmgornelln said

    Thanks, Anne, for stopping by. I agree, I go where the author takes me. Isn’t reading and writing grand! Madeline

  3. As a reader I enjoy having a first hand experience with a place, but when I’m in the thick and thin of the story I tend to accept whatever the author has written. Still, I understand that fine line and appreciated the pics of the real Yermo. 🙂

  4. mmgornell. said

    Yeah, Marja, I’m liking creating my literary town in Rhodes from the ground up. I must admit though, all the pieces come from the Mojave and Route 66. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. mmgornell. said

    Hi Rusty, thanks for dropping by! I wasn’t in the area yet when that vote happened, but I’ve been told about the Mojave County vote, Think that information sat in the back of my mind and came out in Reticence. Funny how names, ideas, places–sit until we need them!

  6. Loved seeing the real place, but it can be so much more fun to create a fictional place. Thank you so much for sharing Yermo with us.

  7. rustyl01 said


    Sounds like fun. As with any imaginary town or world, being as realistic as possible is the key. You may confuse readers who live near Yermo but you can also confuse them with Mojave County, since Mohave County NE is right next door. I trust you’ll pull it off. Your readers will follow you anywhere. Do you remember in the late 1980s when high desert voters gave 63% approval for a new Mojave County? We lost the vote due to urban San Bernardino voters who had more population. That was some campaign.


    Rusty LaGrange

    Creative web content, PR, Blogging & more

    (760) 646-2661

  8. mmgornell. said

    Pam, glad you liked visiting the real Yermo! Different from Puget Sound, isn’t it. Love your paintings, and you know I love dogs, so keep ’em coming!

  9. This was fun to read Mad! Thanks for giving us a glimpse of how you come up with stuff!!

  10. mmgornell said

    Hi Jackie, thanks for stopping by. I know our environments are so different. But I can “see” you, your environment, and that wonderful raven clearly in my mind’s eye!


  11. mmgornell said

    Thanks, Marilyn, for stopping by. Yes, I know you’ve been through my part of the desert many times before! If you ever stop at Penny’s, check if Betty Jean is the waitress–she’s a super doll!


  12. jtzortman said

    This was really interesting, Madeline. It’s actually rather fun to see pictures of places to compare to what one might imagine them looking like as they read your stories. It’s pretty much the same way I had your settings pictured in my mind.

  13. Loved this! Of course I know these places–for real and from your books. Great post.

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