Here are the notes that I’m making for myself on the universe of New Spork City.

The City

The city is unabashedly based on New York City, but with a random, steep hill in the middle of it… New York is the city I look to when I research things (like rent prices), but my students travel more than I do. I didn’t want them to be the authorities, I want to be the authority.

The House

One day I’ll make a plan of the house, to keep track of who lives where. Basically, the ground floor has reception rooms converted into apartments (where Carmen lives), the second floor has smaller common rooms once shared by the Geldsack family, now converted into apartments. (Where the O’Malley family lives directly above Carmen.)

The third floor has the private suites of the Geldsack family. This is where Carla lives, as well as Ella and the other “first renters.”

The fourth floor is where the servants used to live, though only Wilhelm lives there now. Also, smoking is only allowed on the fourth floor in a sort of “exception area” that follows Wilhelm around.

The Characters

Carla Geldsack

Carla is the mysterious owner of the house. The idea is that everyone interacts with her, but nobody really knows much about her. This air of mystery–along with owning the house and being pretty sharp-witted–is one of the things that generates her respect.

Carmen Kleinstadt

The first character ever written, Carmen moved in New Spork City to escape small-town drudgery and found… big city drudgery and a great community in the Geldsack Mansion. She begins a new job at Anon Corp and has generic office frustrations a lá Office Space and explores the city in her off time.

The O’Malley Family

The O’Malley family have five kids in a tiny apartment. Their story follows the day-to-day dramas of parents with children of various ages. Relatively early in their story, one of their kids is diagnosed with diabetes. (Guess which chronic illness one of my kids has?)


Wilhelm was Carla’s mother’s butler. He’s terribly old and is respected by all. Most of his “butlering” is fetching Carla’s newspaper from the bottom of the hill, but he serves as a sort of ghost of the past and voice of the house.


Mike is a retired fireman who needs something to keep him busy. So, he began doing projects around the house on his own initiative. Now, Carla tries to direct his efforts and he’s become the person that tenants can come to to voice their frustrations.

I find it amusing that he never sits in Carla’s presence.

The G.I.s

A group of four young men who served together in the Army and decided to move to New Spork City and study together, it’s not clear whether they’re aware that they’re no longer in the Army. They still have the haircuts and do PT together. In fact, there are whispered speculations about the limits of their intimacy.

Ella Arboreal

Ella was among the first to move into the house, back when Carla was younger and had a few glamorous friends. Back then, Ella was a well-regarded author and illustrator of the “City Faeries” series of books. Since 9/11, however, her style of happily innocent children’s book has gone out of style and she is something of a has-been.

Ella seldom appears in the stories without a full glass (or an open bottle) of wine, and is Mrs. O’Malley’s best friend in the house and a sort of “favorite aunt” to her daughter Sarah.