Some Fun Facts About The Tanglewood Terror

  1. Though a tall tale, I tried to stay close to true science in describing the fungus in The Tanglewood Terror: the size, age, luminosity, and invasiveness are all true of the honey fungus alluded to in the book.
  2. However, the fungus described in the book is an unlabeled, unknown species. It is believed that scientists have only discovered and labeled a fraction of the world’s fungi.
  3. Mushrooms, as Eric learns, are not “fungi” but the fruiting body of the fungi. The organism lives underground.
  4. The glow from luminous fungi is called foxfire. Foxfire has a rich history in both science and mythology, as Eric and other characters discuss in the book.
  5. Foxfire is described in Tom Sawyer; it is the light the boys use for their night-time mischief.
  6. Benjamin Franklin was fascinated by foxfire and recommended it as a lighting source for the first submarine. His reasoning was that the fungus would not consume the ship’s limited oxygen supply, as a lantern would.
  7. The conclusion of the book is also stretched, but scientific. I won’t say anything more on the matter.
  8. The fictional town of Tanglewood, Maine, gets its name from the fictional town of Tanglewood, Massachusetts, the frame story setting of Hawthorne’s Wonder Book for Girls and Boys and Tanglewood Tales.
  9. There is now a real town (and famous music venue) called Tanglewood in Massachusetts, which also gets its name from Hawthorne’s Tanglewood.
  10. I lived in Orono, Maine, which is just north of Bangor. Tanglewood is sort of based on Orono, only without a big university.
  11. Cassie’s name is short for Cassandra, a hero of Greek tragedy, but the name has no significance in the book.
  12. I wanted there to be a pig in my “Maine book” as an homage to Charlotte’s Web.
  13. Maxwell Bailey is named for two consecutive exits from Highway 61, south of St. Paul, Minnesota. I passed by them as I was thinking about the character.
  14. Maxwell is loosely based on Howard Philips Lovecraft, a pulp-era horror writer who also wrote about scary luminous fungi.
  15. The band name Arkham Hat Shop is named for a famous town in Lovecraft’s work, and the obscure biographical datum that Lovecraft once owned and operated a ladies’ hat shop.
  16. Maxwell’s daughter… wait, I don’t want to spoil it. But her name proved serendipitous. It turns out to be the real (and unlikely) birthname of a famous author who’s known by a different name.
  17. Eric’s science teacher is named after a science teacher I had in high school, and one of the best teachers I had growing up. Coincidentally, he now lives in Maine.
  18. Eric occasionally refers to the historic town of Keatston as “Puritan.” It is actually a relic of the Puritan revival known as The Great Awakening. Forgive Eric, as he is not a historian.
  19. Brian’s favorite Wii game Gninjas is inspired by The Legend of Zelda, which doesn’t involve either Ninjas or Gnomes but is in the same ilk.
  20. Brian’s hedgehogs are named Digger and Starling, and are the heroes of another fictional video game that is never named.
  21. There’s a scene near the end that made me cry when I wrote it, and makes me cry whenever I read it.