At one point, we had outlined Gravedust’s destination as “Rendorr, the Human Capitol of New Icarun.” I no longer remember why we instead settled on “Gastonia” as the name for the human capital. After Penny and Aggie‘s “Belleville,” it’s the second fictional city I’ve co-created that has a real-world American namesake, and since I have a lot of family in North Carolina, I’ve very likely driven through the other Gastonia at some point. We didn’t really sweat it once we realized that, though.

One influence on the name was likely Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. He’s strong and privileged, thinks he’s entitled to everything, takes by force what’s not given to him and schemes to get what he can’t take by force… generalize that behavior out to an entire government and what’ve you got?

There are a fair number of occasions in Guilded Age where humans and others use “Gastonia” to mean a nation, not just a capital city. Since the ghost automatically knows that Gravedust means a city, I think there might be some synecdoche going on there, but it rarely seems to be the source of any confusion.