Monday, March 1, 2010
This Cozy Mystery gig I am auditioning for however, is on location in the United States... and I've never been there... I'm sure these locations are chosen for a certain local flavor and charm, and very possibly because of a high prevalence of genre readership. The REASON isn't really my problem. My PROBLEM is writing the location as if I'd lived there my whole life. So I've been RESEARCHING.
Wikipedia, my new best friend.
I know better than to take Wiki as gospel, because any old person can say something. But lets look at the motivation to put something false about a town in there... maybe you want to discourage people from moving there? Erm... likely to be balanced and corrected by someone who has some home pride. Chances are, the entries are written by people who live there, and hold more truth than not, and it is REALLY only a starting place ANYWAY. Besides, it's likely to be more accurate than the Chamber of Commerce, who is going to present only the very best light.
Second Degree Friendships
On Facebook I sent out a note to all my friends who live in Virginia (I have four of them). None of them has lived in Roanoke, but one has a fiance who went to college in Lynchburg, so I asked him for some details, and double checked a couple of the things I hoped to do. He told me somethings that never would have occurred to me (like the rapidly dropping SES as one went outside the urban boundaries—people who live in the country for the most part are VERY poor, which is opposite of how things are around here. In Michigan people live out it the country because they have a bizillion dollars and want room for their horses.... Oh, not that there aren't that kind of rich people down there—there just are still rural poor—something less common up north.
When I have all my locations totally set, I plan to take a virtual tour—have a look-see from my chair in my basement. It will help me get the scenery right... hopefully it will even keep me from going the wrong way on a one-way street!
It's not perfect. I know it would be a lot better to go there, and if I get the gig, I just may—I have a conference in Baltimore in May, and while I'm so close, hopping south a ways wouldn't be so hard, though I guess it's QUITE a ways... still, a lot closer than from here.
I would LOVE to hear any suggestions from all of you, if you've written about a location you've never been to!