Evenfall research: safe house examples, ch 37

Google streetview made the editing of the Monterrey arc of Evenfall about a thousand times easier and more accurate. This entry contains minor spoilers for around Evenfall chapter 37 so I’ve put it behind a cut.

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Q&A: Chinese characters for Hsin’s name?

Q: How do you write Hsin’s name/what is the Chinese character used for Hsin?

A: This question has been asked by various people over the years. Below is a post taken from when this was first answered, on September 10, 2011, at our forum. Read the original post if you’d like.

Original post:
A few people have asked this question recently on AFFN reviews and possibly elsewhere. I can’t recall whether we ever answered this somewhere else on the forum, so for the moment I’m doing the answer here.

Hsin is Xin in Mandarin. The specific character is this:


or this if it’s drawn a little less pretty:


It’s pronounced roughly like if you combined ‘shin’ and ‘sheen’ in English; originally we were told it was more like ‘shin’ and then some native speakers said it’s more like ‘sheen,’ which does seem to be the case when you listen to it. It’s easiest to hear people pronounce it themselves. Listen to these options: youtube, pronouncenames, and hantrainerpro.

[**full disclosure, I updated the above paragraph in October 2017 after hearing it pronounced more like ‘sheen’ than ‘shin’ over the years. When we first wrote ICoS, the internet wasn’t nearly as global in the amount of specific things you could find, like multiple sources recording themselves pronouncing the name Xin. We had to go based on forums and descriptions, and back then I understood it to sound a little more like ‘shin’ than ‘sheen.’ If you look back at old answers to this question, I did say it was more like ‘shin.’ I wanted to note this so there isn’t any confusion.**]

There are several meanings to it and I’m sure even the ones I list will be debated by native speakers. But the ones I saw were:

letter / true / to believe / sign / evidence

That’s in Mandarin, which is his native language.

A side note from my Japanese kanji dictionary: that same character is used in Japanese, where it means trust, believe. It consists of word (second part) and person (first). “A person’s word is something which can be believed and trusted” is the way to remember it.

For those of you who have read Fade chapter 7, that (信) is the pertinent character.

What seems to be Hsin’s middle name is technically his last name in China. That’s Liu, which is this:


So if you were to write his name out directly the way it’s said in English it would be this:

Hsin Liu Vega
信 刘 Vega

Clicking the images will bring you to the direct link of where we found them.

Also note that I asked a number of native speakers for help with identifying the proper Chinese characters for Hsin’s name. Since neither Sonny nor I are fluent in any dialect of Chinese we obviously can’t easily verify things ourselves, but we had several very nice, very helpful people aid us in the identification of options for the characters. Ultimately, Sonny had the last say in what was used. The funny thing is, he chose the same character for Hsin I would have also chosen from the list I provided him.

Q&A: cracking OTP encryption?

On October 13, 2008 , in the course of an email chain with a reader B.L. (name redacted for privacy)  we received the following question. This post is placed behind a cut for minor spoilers through about Evenfall chapter 17.

Note: the conversation we had back and forth following the initial question/answer might be interesting for people to read so I included the reader’s question and my answer, and then after that included our back and forth. It’s labeled B.L. for the reader and Ais for me (if that last part wouldn’t have been, you know, self-evident or anything ^_~).

Since this conversation happened years ago I didn’t get express permission from the reader to repost this. I am hoping that it is acceptable to share this since there are no identifying details, but if you are the reader and wish for me to remove the conversation please let me know and I will do so immediately. Thank you!

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Q&A: safe sex and Boyd?

Occasionally, we get questions from readers wondering about something in particular they read. On September 11, 2011 on our site’s forum, user pureskyblue asked the following question.  Note that this question was asked before the series had ended.

NOTE: the question and answer both are placed behind a cut because they contain MAJOR SPOILERS through Fade chapter 4!

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Fade research: settings for ch 40 and 42

In 2005-2006 when we first started writing In the Company of Shadows, Sonny and I both found it difficult to properly research locations outside the US. Most of the time I could find country maps with city names, but not always. And finding street maps of individual cities was, at times, nearly impossible. Every used bookstore I visited, I trolled the map and travel area. Once, I bought a huge wall map of Mexico because it had one small box that showed a tiny portion of the streets of Monterrey.

But times change and so does technology.

Google alone made a remarkable difference in our ability to research other cities with the expansion of streetview all over the world. Suddenly, not only could we zoom in and see the street names and layouts, but we could also view what that street looked like, and eventually photographs taken by people were also tied to locations. This gave us the ability to find and describe settings, and to become more accurate in our timing of characters’ movements or travel plans.

And as the internet expanded, we also found it easier to search for more details in other countries. When needed, we were able to locate actual farms or houses for sale, or apartments for rent, or hotel or hostel rooms for booking, in order to more accurately describe the architecture and amenities of the city where the chapters were set.

Below are some screenshots taken during the writing of Fade chapters 40 and 42. These were examples used for the settings. I took to making notes on the screenshot itself to explain why that screenshot in particular was taken. Keep in mind, these are rough locations. This is placed behind a cut for potential spoilers.

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Behind the scenes, research: Fade chapter 9

Below is a set of notes I sent to Sonny in 2010 while we were writing Fade chapter 9. This is being included here as an example of some of the behind the scenes research we did when we got the chance, to try to make things as accurate as possible for the locations, dates, and times when the various scenes were set.

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