If you have a question that isn't answered by the responses below, please ask it in the comments.
Q. Where can I buy your books?
A. I am so glad you asked! The printed and bound edition of Collected Works (a “book”) is now available for purchase. A Kindle version is also available. Please stay tuned to this site or follow @djchall on Twitter for updates on future books and special pricing.
Q. What is the Santa Zita Trilogy?
A. The Santa Zita Trilogy, which at times has been called the Santa Zita Stories and the Santa Zita Quintet, is a series of three novels set in Santa Zita, CA. The trilogy consists of the following books, in order of internal chronology:
- 1989: A Novel
- The Deep and Savage Way
The action of the Santa Zita Trilogy takes place over a year, from June 1989 to June 1990. The first and third novels are from Tim Page’s point of view, while the second is from Michael Sullivan’s.
Q. What is the Zitaverse?
A. The Zitaverse is what I call the world that the Santa Zita Trilogy takes place in. Less obviously, it is also the setting of Therapy: A Screenplay, as the astute reader will note that Philip Yau wears a UC Santa Zita sweatshirt. A character with the same name is one of Tim and Michael’s hall-mates in The Deep and Savage Way, and not by coincidence, they are indeed the same person. There is a Guide to the Zitaverse which may be helpful in keeping this all straight.
Q. Why are so many streets in Santa Zita named after Russian cities?
A. The west side of Santa Zita was originally settled by a group of emigres escaping the Russian Revolution. In order to feel less homesick, they named the streets in the new subdivision after cities in their motherland.
Q. Isn’t Santa Zita just a thinly fictionalized version of Santa Cruz, CA?
A. Certainly not! There are many crucial differences. For example, most streets in Santa Cruz are named after trees or California cities, while in Santa Zita, streets are named after trees or Russian cities.
Q. What is Margarita?
A. Margarita is the codename for a proposed sequel to 1989: A Novel and The Deep and Savage Way, which would tell the story of Tim’s spring quarter 1990. It could be considered a rewrite ofNotes For a Future Novel, but will most likely have a different plot.
Q. What is A City On the Hill?
A. It is a proposed prequel to the Santa Zita Trilogy that would tell the story of how Tim Page first came to Santa Zita and became friends with Helen and Jessica. Its relationship to the Santa Zita Trilogy would be somewhat like the Silmarillion to the Lord of the Rings.
Q. What is Helen of Santa Zita?
A. When Notes For a Future Novel was abandoned in 1993, I created the concept of the Santa Zita Stories, one of which was going to be told from the point of view of Helen Zachary. Once I had written The Deep and Savage Way, I decided the next installment would be that one, so in spring 1994, I cut the writing from Helen’s point of view out of Notes For a Future Novel and created a novella out of it. I returned to Helen of Santa Zita in 2000 and worked on it through the spring of 2001, intending to turn into a full-length novel, which would be part of what at that point was called the Santa Zita Quintet. I got as far as finishing a draft of Part I before abandoning the project in summer 2001. At the present, the project has been back-burnered and is not considered part of the Santa Zita Trilogy. However, some of the plot elements and situations from it may end up in Margarita.
Q. What is the relationship between Notes For a Future Novel and the Santa Zita Trilogy?
A. The short answer is that Notes For a Future Novel is an early draft of what became the Santa Zita Trilogy. The real story, of course, is more complicated. In May 1993 I completed Draft III of Notes For a Future Novel, which comprised Parts I through IV of what was planned to be a seven-part saga (this was long before JK Rowling had similar, but ultimately far more remunerative, idea.) A week later, I left on a cross-country driving trip during which I planned to continue work. However, I didn’t end up working on it and when I got back, I decided to abandon the project. In an effort to salvage some of the work I had already done and to create more flexibility in the plots and characters I could include, I came up with the idea of the Santa Zita Stories. This would be a collection of stories, ranging from short to novella length, all set in Santa Zita—some of which would recycle characters and situations from NFFN. The first one I wrote was The Deep and Savage Way, which was based on one of the plot-lines of Notes For a Future Novel, a parody of Dante’s Inferno. Another idea was one called “Stealing Money” which was about a group of employees at a movie theater embezzling money by reselling tickets. In 1996 I combined that idea with that of a relationship between an older guy and younger girl, and that became 1989: A Novel.
Q. What is Project Narnia?
A. Narnia is the codename for a proposed virtual world based on the Zitaverse, which would allow people to explore and interact in a detailed 3D environment replicating Santa Zita in the late 80s and early 90s. Visitors can (virtually) drink beer, play Mexicali, hang out in cafes, listen to contemporary popular music, smoke weed, surf, and engage in other activities consistent with that time and place, as well as interact with characters from the Santa Zita Trilogy.