SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Writer's Room => Research => Topic started by: marla-lesage on January 29, 2020, 08:52 AM

Title: Anyone live (or recently live) on or near an American military base?
Post by: marla-lesage on January 29, 2020, 08:52 AM
I'm wondering about the differences between American & Canadian military housing for families.

For example, most Canadian military bases have PMQs  or Private Military Quarters or just Qs - houses that military families can rent.  But many families choose to buy their own off-base housing. The Qs have a particular look to them - row houses, duplexes, or little A-frames sometimes called "doll houses."

Spring is posting season - many families find out they will be moving, house for sale signs pop up, & eventually lots and lots of moving trucks.

Those that are moving typically take an HHT - house hunting trip - to secure housing etc in the new location.  This is usually 1 week long & kids can go along.

Army towns, the smaller ones at least, tend to have tanks, etc around town.  Plus it's pretty common to hear distant artillery/tank firing & see helicopters flying overhead.

How does this compare to the USA? How does the lingo differ?  Would 12 year olds even know the lingo? If they don't what other words might you/they use when referring to PMQs/HHTs?
Title: Re: Anyone live (or recently live) on or near an American military base?
Post by: Melody on January 29, 2020, 04:04 PM
Marla, I live across the river from a base. We hear the planes take off and see them a lot. You can PM me if you need to know more. I'm not sure I will have all the answers, but I've had family living in military housing in the U.S., so I can ask.
Title: Re: Anyone live (or recently live) on or near an American military base?
Post by: karen-b-jones on January 29, 2020, 06:03 PM
I take it you grew up in a Canadian military family?  You could just set your story in a Canadian military town, so that you're writing what you know.  You will have to explain the terms either way, since few readers will know the military jargon regardless of which country you set it in. 

Good luck! 
Title: Re: Anyone live (or recently live) on or near an American military base?
Post by: marla-lesage on January 29, 2020, 06:16 PM
Karen - that's exactly what I did! Agents are suggesting I change the setting OR make it as generic as possible. There would not be a lot of changes, but I want to make sure I know what I'd be up against illustration-wise/lingo wise before I make a decision. I'm happy with generic but would really like to keep the little easter eggs that make it instantly recognizable by the locals!
Title: Re: Anyone live (or recently live) on or near an American military base?
Post by: marla-lesage on January 29, 2020, 06:25 PM
Melody - I sent you a private message!
Title: Re: Anyone live (or recently live) on or near an American military base?
Post by: Vijaya on January 29, 2020, 06:26 PM
My husband grew up in a Navy family, my brother was in the Air Force, my sister was an Air Force wife for many years, my nephew was in the Army. I've been on many American military bases. What you describe is similar except for the jargon. The houses are just called base housing. They make a distinction between officer and enlisted. But the sounds and sights are definitely unique to each base. I love "The Sound of Freedom" on Whidbey Island because that's what it is.

I wouldn't make it generic. Pick the base where you want the story to be so that you can visualize everything, walk its streets, hear, smell everything. Paradoxically, that's what makes a story more universal. Good luck!
Title: Re: Anyone live (or recently live) on or near an American military base?
Post by: marla-lesage on January 29, 2020, 07:28 PM
That's very helpful Vijaya! In my experience army bases in Canada are very similar. I've set it in one in particular & friends knew immediately where it was based on housing styles (off base & on).  From my research there does seem to be more variety in tbe US (# of bases probably contributes to this). So maybe my typically "Canadian" houses would pass. Still need some confirming.

My current setting is specific enough but with a fictional name & yet it could pass for any base I have been on.
Title: Re: Anyone live (or recently live) on or near an American military base?
Post by: karen-b-jones on January 30, 2020, 06:45 AM
If you pick a specific base, with references, your illustrator (are you an illustrator or a writer?) will have an easier time matching their illustrations to your vision.  If you can find an illustrator familiar with military bases (US or Canadian) that would help.  But, regardless, they'd probably appreciate reference photos. 
Title: Re: Anyone live (or recently live) on or near an American military base?
Post by: marla-lesage on January 30, 2020, 10:05 AM
Karen - I'm also the illustrator & I 100% agree! Which is why I want to see if a Canadian base could pass...  I can work from memory/take a little walk or drive for all the reference I need! Hubby says no prob, just change the flags but it's a GN & I want to be sure I get it right.
Title: Re: Anyone live (or recently live) on or near an American military base?
Post by: Melody on January 30, 2020, 10:48 AM
Marla, I heard back and sent you a PM. For others who may need this info. here are two places for further info.

dfas.mil,    military.com