The protagonist of Coffee Crash, Samuel Decker, is a professor of microbiology at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts (a Boston suburb). I have no affiliation whatsoever with that school, so why did I pick Tufts?

In the first draft of Coffee Crash, I had Decker at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (It seems like every fictional professor in the Boston area is from either Harvard or MIT, presumably due to the author's desire to present the character as cream-of-the-crop in his or her field.) But in editing and revising Coffee Crash, I realized that MIT wasn't right for the Decker character. He's not a techno-geek, and although he's not anti-technology, his relationship to technology is ambivalent, as evidenced in Chapter 1 of Coffee Crash. So I went about evaluating other universities in the Boston area, including among others, Boston College, Brandeis, and Northeastern. I knew I found the right place for Decker when I looked at Tufts, where the Biology Department is housed in a building named after P.T. Barnum, and the school mascot is Jumbo the elephant. As a writer seeking a home for a professor who's a bit eccentric, I couldn't have made up fictional details that were more apropos than those of the real Tufts University.


Leave a Reply