Some Pop-Culture and Location References in my Debut Novel, Northern Knights

Today’s article is going to focus on my debut novel, Northern Knights. What you’re about to see below is another older article, one I posted last year in March 2019 on Lord of Columbia’s initial site entitled ‘Lord of Columbia Series.’

So, as with a few of my other taken from my old site, some of what’s said here might be a little dated, but the work itself, of course, remains intact, so these references listed below in the article still hold true to this day and will always do so. 

Okay, so let’s begin! Here’s what I wrote back in March 2019. 

Northern Knights might be an urban fantasy that takes place in a fictionalized version of our world, but don’t think for a single second I haven’t made some pop culture and mainstream references in Northern Knights, the Lord of Columbia Series’ first episode.

From Chapter One, the reader will find entertainment and comic relief from the darker overtones of the plot when they stumble across such references.

Let’s break it down chapter by chapter.

Chapters One Through Five

The reader is introduced to the element bending trait that our main characters hold, which may remind readers of Avatar, the Last Airbender which served as an inspiration creating the work.

One of the main unseen but EXTREMELY relevant antagonist’s name is King Rooney from the House of Pitt, a reference to the Rooney Family who own the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a reference to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Spreading upon the Pittsburgh references, the Southpoint Empire gets its name from Southpointe, one of the business districts in Pittsburgh’s South Hills.

Cain and Micah make reference to Florida-Georgia Line’s 2016 single ‘May We All.’ While the book wasn’t released until 2018, much of my first draft was written between 2015 and 2017, where some references take place.

At the Kent International Airport, an agency called the TSAS conducts bag checks and searches travelers’ apparel for contraband. The TSAS is a reference to America’s TSA.

I mention a few towns in the first three chapters, namely Winters, Ironton, Richfield, and Kent. Winters takes its name from Wintersville, Ohio. Richfield is a nod to Richfield, Ohio, where the Cleveland Cavaliers played their home basketball games until the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse opened up, previously known as Gund Arena in Downtown Cleveland.

Kent references Kent, Ohio, home of Kent State University.

And Ironton is a reference to Ironton, Ohio, a small city located near Ohio’s southern tip.

In Ironton, there’s an exit called Three Springs, referencing the Three Springs Exit in Weirton, West Virginia, off US-22. My very first job as a personal trainer was located off this exit.

Finally, Columbia itself recalls the original personification of the United States of America, whose caricature was Columbia.

Chapters Six Through Ten

The main setting in Northern Knights, Summit University, contains a campus based on Kent State University, which I attended for a year, while Summit itself is named after Summit County, Ohio, where Richfield, Ohio resides.

There’s a scene when I introduce the game of shotball featuring Cain crotch-grabbing and mouthing profanity to a rival player, reminiscing on a similar act conducted by Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield during his playing days at Oklahoma.

In a later shotball scene, Cain plants a Santos Knights flag on an opposing team’s logo, another reference to Mayfield after his Oklahoma Sooners upset the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2017,

Continuing the shotball references, the Santos Knights’ fight song, Knights Battle Cry, is a parody to Buckeyes Battle Cry, one of the Ohio State Buckeyes’ fight songs.

The Leistung Monarchs’ fight song, Victors, is named similar to that of the Michigan Wolverine’s fight song.

One of my characters, Randelo Jefferson, typically called ‘Rand,’ is a reference to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Thomas Jefferson.

Cain mentions Santos’ abysmal 6-34 record against their shotball team’s rival, Leistung, referencing the Cleveland Browns’ now-6-33-1 (as of 2018) record against the Pittsburgh Steelers since returning to the NFL in 1999.

Jefferson mentions representatives and leaders from different regions such as Hancock, Wetzel, and others, a nod to a few counties in West Virginia’s northern panhandle.

When one views the location of Richfield, North Columbia, they’re getting a true visual of Wintersville, Ohio’s landscape.

Cross Creek High School, and their nickname, the Redhawks, is the fictionalized version of Indian Creek High School. Also, Kettlewell Stadium is named directly after Indian Creek’s football stadium.

I also mention Tesla and Stanton High School, both of which play on Edison High School in Richmond, Ohio, where Yours Truly stalked the hallways and graduated from back in 2009.

Chapters Eleven Through Fifteen

A mass shooting scene (yes, this book does contain some dark references, too), was inspired by the US National Guard’s shooting upon Kent State students on May 4th, 1970, which killed four students.

In a rather comedic action, Lira argues that she was next in line while Cain knocks the accuser out while a hospital receptionist has her back turned. An identical scene was created in an airport scene during the 2001 movie ‘Rat Race.’

Cain states in a later chapter his dismal idea for the Santos Knights to wear an all-orange uniform combo, which references widespread fear among Browns fans that the team would someday wear an all-orange uniform combo in real life.

There’s a scene referencing ‘Bottlegate,’ which happened back in 2001 when a bad call cost the Cleveland Browns the playoffs. Fans retaliated in a way never seen before or since, resorting to showering the playing area with plastic beer bottles and other debris.

A brawl takes place toward the end of a tense shotball game between Santos and Leistung, reminiscent of the infamous 2004 incident known as The Malice at the Palace, where the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers engaged in one of the most violent bench-clearing brawls in sports history. This scene also references the intense rivalry seen between the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, most notably during their 2012 playoff series. Update: To many just now discovering Lord of Columbia, this particular scene might remind readers of this image below:

When confronted by the story’s comic relief character, Cain asks his cousin Micah why he always falls over laughing, referencing Sal Vulcano from Tru TV’s Impractical Jokers.

In an ‘inside family’ joke, Cain (some of whose mannerisms I’ve based on my own) is seen eating jelly from a jelly pack, something I used to do when going out to breakfast with my family when I was young.

Chapters Sixteen Through Twenty

Obranca, the Complex friendly to Santos, is said to possess baby blue and red as its colors, a nod to the NFL’s former team, the Houston Oilers.

At the climax, I need to be vague here, the reader will find inspiration from similar scenes in Star Wars and the Fast and Furious Series. If you’re a fan of either, you might like my climax!


I’m sure I provided more than just the handful listed above, but not only will my reader be taken on a journey to a fictional world with an epic plot and message, but there’s a lot of meaning behind Northern Knights in virtually every chapter.

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