Thursday, November 7, 2013

Research blues

Gah! Why oh why do I keep setting my novels in places I'm unfamiliar with? Or rather, why do stories that happen in places I've never been to keep coming to me?? 

Awakening takes place in New York City, which I've been to a total of one time in my life and only for a day.

Awakening 2 takes place in Northern Italy. Have not been anywhere in Italy. Closest I have been is Switzerland.

The Pirate Queen takes place in the Caribbean (Wait! I've been there! *happy dance*) in 1717 (*happy dance retracted*). What, do I look like a(n) historian?! (A clue: no.)

And my latest nightmare: Nick + Serran takes place in a small town outside of Boston. I've been to Boston a couple of times, but I haven't spent a lot of time in the area.

What this means is that I have to research. There's so much I don't know about this suburb outside of Boston! How far outside of Boston does it have to be to have a small-town feel? Why would a well-known romance author go there? What does the town look like? What would the streets be named - stuff like "Main Street" and "High Street," or would they have names taken from the Native Americans who used to live there? How old are the oldest houses? How much new construction is there? (Nick owns his own construction business and remodeled the old house he lives in, so this is important stuff.) What are the characteristic features of the old houses there? Etc., etc., etc.

Thank the Internet gods for Google maps, especially now that they've got satellite images of most of the world. Thank you so much, Google! I don't know what I'd do without you! [[[BIG HUG]]]

Thank the gods also for YouTube, which has videos for just about anything you can think of, including a Bob Vila episode where they remodel an old house in Medford, Massachusetts, which just happens to be a suburb about six miles outside of Boston with a small-town feel that's near a couple universities and has several small, independent book stores. Hell yes.

Still, I hate research. It's slow and laborious and feels like...well, it feels like time spent not writing. Even though I know it's important to the writing. Do you even know how long I spent looking at Google maps of suburbs of Boston trying to figure out where the hell the good bookstores were??? (A clue: too long.) I really wish I could just relax and give into it...enjoy the process. Sigh. That'd be nice. Maybe in my next life.

So anyway, now I know where Nick + Serran takes place and I just need to figure out whether to call it Medford or make up a town name (both Bedford, MA and Milford, MA actually exist, btw) so that I don't piss off the people who live there when I get things wrong. Advice?

And while you're helping me think that over, how about another excerpt from Nick + Serran? This one is taken from a conversation between Serran and her best friend, Jean, just after Serran has met Nick but before they go on their date. Enjoy! :)
“Jean, seriously. Nothing’s going to happen.” Even as she said it, Serran’s stomach fluttered. The part of her that wanted something to happen was dancing a jig in her belly. 
“Yeah, okay. Whatever you say. I think you should wear your purple dress. The one that shows off your boobs.” 
“I don’t have that dress with me, this is a business trip. That’s a special occasion dress. And anyway, nothing’s going to happen. It would be too mortifying.” 
“What? What are you talking about?” Serran could practically hear the wheels turning in Jean’s head. “Oh my God, Serran. Seriously, he doesn’t know? You didn’t tell him?” 
“We met at a book signing! Of course I’m going to be dressed as Jane!” Her face got hot and she was grateful Jean couldn’t see how badly she was blushing. 
“Well you’re going to tell him, right?” 
“I didn’t plan on it, no.” 
“Why the heck not?” 
“Because! How…how am I supposed to find out how he really feels about me if he knows it’s me?” 
“You hear yourself, right? Can you hear how ridiculous you sound?” 
“You’re not helping,” she said, a slight tremor in her voice. 
Jean sighed. “Okay, that was judge-y. I’m sorry. I want to help. How can I help?” 
“Tell me what I should do! I’m freaking out over here. Should I just call the whole thing off?” 
“Is that what you want to do?”

Progress: 11,826 words (goal = 50,000)

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