I've finally started my next novel, and I'm psyched. Thinking over possible settings, I'm tempted to use some real locales in upstate New York. The city of Troy is particularly rich in picturesque places - several sites have original Tiffany windows, and today I revisited Oakwood Cemetery for inspiration. Their crematoriuim has especially beautiful Tiffany stained glass and interior design. The capitol building in Albany is a fascinating place for a chase scene.
I note many mystery writers fictionalize just about everything about their settings. But my sense is that it's fine to use well known locations as long as I don't slander them. I change the names and details for restaurants, bars, funeral homes and other smaller, potentially more transitory establishments, and I'm going to rename my town and my lake. For Mood Swing, which is set in lower Manhattan, I described Tompkins Square Park, NYU and various streets and neighborhoods, but changed the identities of smaller establishments.
How do others handle real places - and for that matter, real people in the public eye?