This is very loosely based on the Riverina Region of New South Wales, Australia and extended into the mountains to cover towns like Tumut and Batlow. Rivers is based on Wagga Wagga, Bowen's Creek is based on Junee, Wood Valley is based on Batlow, and Ryan's Ridge is based on Tumbarumba - - all are very loosely based on the real places. Please, no more emails asking me about where it is.
Time-line: I've been asked for a time-line for these stories. However, because some of them cover decades or lifetimes of those in them it's very hard to set an exact time-line for them that neatly weaves them all together, that was never intended. The best I can say is the majority of the current activities has the main characters as contemporaries and the most significant parts of their lives as being in the current decade. To that extent you can picture A Farmer's Life starting in the late 1990s, Mack also starts in the late 1990s, Michaels Mansion starts in the early 2010s, Flames of Life starts in the early 1990s, and Interesting Times starts in the early 2010s.
Sidewinder vs Stinger Missile - Yes, technically the Sidewinder is an air to air missile only (although I have heard there is a ground fire kit for firing them - a reader told me there is one for some models but it's not a shoulder mount kit), and it's likely in real life a Stinger or a Strela would have been used. However, the people involved in the story are all retired Air Force and much more familiar with a Sidewinder than a Stinger and are calling it what they know. Due to the comments I considered doing an update to cover this point while leaving it as what they said, but I looked at it and it would cause major issues with the print book version so I'm not making any changes for this.
Pat's Age - He's in his third year at university, that puts him in the 22 to 23 year old bracket when the story starts. I didn't state this as I figured most people would work it out for themselves. In Australia most people finish high school at 18 or 19 and then go onto university (what some call college in the US) where most courses are 4 years plus post graduate studies after that (some are 3 year courses).
Archery and Shotgun loads: Mack taught himself how to use a bow from watching it on TV and Internet research, he was NOT trained by a professional
The use of rock chips in a shotgun. Shotgun barrels are essential unchanged for centuries and are simply smooth-bore metal tubes of quality steel. Mack uses chips about the same size, or smaller, than that of No 4 bird-shot - a typical shot used for rabbit hunting here in Australia. They are not likely to do any worse damage to the inside of the barrel than steel shot. And if they did it'd take an awful long time to do so. They feel and fire the same as a normal load and the effect at close to medium range is the same. Firing rock loads does have a less compact and wider spread at longer ranges than steel or lead shot. I know people who save money by self-loading with local granite rock chips. For the ranges normally used when rabbit hunting with a shotgun you see no difference, but the longer ranges for duck and bird shooting can see the spread a bit too wide for a good hit.
Football Field, in rural NSW most local football fields are big enough to play all four codes of soccer, rugby league, rugby unions, and Australian Rules - with Aussie Rules being more common the closer you get to the Victorian border. A typical full-sized Aussie Rules field can run out to 250 m x 200 m to give plenty of room around it and the actual playing area can is 185 m x 155 m. Check out wikipedia on it.
Flames of Life
Leg injury: The front muscles that are used to straighten the leg. But from discussions with a physiotherapist and other medical specialist the use of the front muscles are what allows him to mimic walking because he can use the muscle to provide some leg movement. However, with the back muscle totally useless he hasn't enough muscle power in what's left in the front only to hold the leg straight and put weight on it. That's why the mention of the frame at one point, to overcome that issue - but would be very cumbersome. He can and does move about with a cane on level ground by balancing his hip on the hand on the top of the cane and pivoting on it.
Building Owners - criminal conspiracy. I've had a few people mention they should be arrested and charged etc. One problem there is there is no legal evidence to do so.
1. Waste - Maybe it's just Australian usage, but waste is anything I have and don't want, while garbage is what gets thrown in the landfill. Thus the recyclable containers are waste in the room and go into waste bins, they'll be recycled later. Remember, he made arrangements to have the recycling done.
2. The quotation is listed as an apocryphal Chinese saying, which means it's of doubtful heritage. Urban legend has it as being Chinese, but it can't be tracked down as such.
3. Figures given in dialogue are not always given as exacts, thus when the bikes are sold one person is using only the figures before the thousands.
4. DVDs and tech levels - blu-ray is only just starting to get some market penetration here in Australia, and it was almost non-existent 4 years ago when I wrote that part of the story. Also, those who do have blu-ray here still call them DVDs.
5. Mortgage release - I've had a couple of people say it takes the banks several days to release documents on payment of the mortgage. When I worked in the banks (many, many moons ago) all the mortgage documents were kept at the local branch the mortgage was lodged with, and immediately the sum was paid up the documents had to be handed over. If the payment was being organised via another mortgage and the documents sent to another lender, then it took days to organise the payout, but a cash payout requires an immediate hand over. I asked a local bank manager about this and was told some banks still keep the documents in the local branch safe, while others store them in the state headquarters. From a legal point of view once the mortgage is paid out the bank has to hand the papers over a.s.a.p. and once the person offers to make an immediate payout the bank has to accept it, if they refuse to do so for internal administrative reasons they can't charge interest from then on and can't take the money until they're ready to process it - neither suits the banks.