Writing realistic locations in my books
My first three novels are all set mostly in the Atlanta area. Of course, that’s where I live and I know some interesting local spots to use in my stories. I’ve also used Charlotte, Savannah and Charleston for locations, among others. It helps that I lived in one of those cities and have visited the others.
I try to bring authenticity to my books through descriptions of the sites where scenes take place, whether it’s a Decatur cemetery, as in “VisionSight,” or a DeKalb County neighborhood, as in “The Time Telephone.”
And then there are locations I used for my near future Climate Fiction novel, “The Shade Ring.” In the book, sea levels have risen fifteen feet because of runaway global warming. That means the city of Charleston is half submerged. I wanted to get a feel for Charleston as I was writing the novel and finally paid a visit in 2014 and again in 2015. Those visits helped bring more intensity to my writing as I considered the fate of coastal cities, many of which are already suffering from flooding. In my novel, the southern third of Florida has also been inundated, along with the entire coastline of the state. I’ve visited quite a few places in FL and it’s shocking to think those vibrant cities and suburbs could be underwater in the not so distant future. I’m writing a sequel to “The Shade Ring” now and am using the Albuquerque area for a scene. It comes in handy that I’ve been to Albuquerque a number of times visiting my husband’s family.
Sometimes my location research is fun, like when my husband and I visited Amicalola Falls in north Georgia. I was writing a scene in “VisionSight” using the falls as a backdrop and wanted to see the view and climb those steps myself. Fantastic scenery. Stunning waterfall. Even though my knees complained for days afterwards.