Astrid Maxxim and her parents live in a mansion in Maxxim City. It is three stories high and huge, with an observatory, a laboratory, and a music room on the unused third floor. Only a part of the first and second floors are used, the former having a series of unused rooms where servants were once housed.
The inspiration for this mansion comes from two sources. The first is the house that my grandparents lived in when I was born. It was a huge, two-story house made of red brick, that had been built over a hundred years ago as a hotel. About forty years ago, my grandparents sold it and it went through several owners. A few years ago, it was gutted so that it could be rebuilt, but the owners apparently ran out of money. When I visited it last, it was just an empty hulk. The other day I looked for it on Google Earth and found only an empty lot. I have often dreamed of this house, all the way back to when I was a kid. Back then, in my dreams, it often appeared as being much larger than in real life. In recent dreams, it is always in decay.
The second inspiration comes from just a few miles west of the first, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I used to live in a crappy apartment building next to the freeway in Tulsa. This was back when I attended second grade a Paul Revere Elementary School. Across the road from my apartment was a row of stately mansions. A school friend of mine lived with his mother in an apartment above the garage behind one of these large, lovely homes. I believe his grandparents lived in the big house. I remember going inside one time and seeing a sweeping staircase like something out of Falcon Crest. A few years ago, I took my kids on a trip through Tulsa, looking at all the places from my childhood. The row of beautiful old mansions was gone. Paul Revere Elementary School was gone. The crappy apartment building I lived in– still there.
In Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space Plane, the Maxxim family begins a refurbishment of their home, breathing new life into it and making some modernizations. Maybe this is me, trying to rebuild those glorious houses from my past.