I've been to most of the places I write about - with one exception: Russia. But my wife taught there as part of an EU sponsored program(me) and made long-lasting friendships with a couple of young Russians. One of them read the Russian chapters as I wrote them and vetted them for all kinds of things : from the doorkeys to certain Russian hotels, to street desciptions, and most importantly - to the way Russians interact, the way to approach them, the credibility of dialogue, etc ...

Where I've been unable to do this I have done tons of research about a place and its people knowing that I'll probably only use a little of it... but the little that I do use is used with confidence ...

Haven't you read any stories or novels where the event/action took place where you lived and you didn't recognize it. Recently I read one of James Patterson's novels set in Maam Cross here in Connemara in the west of Ireland where I live these days. Well, you wouldn't recognize the place in the book. If you expected to visit here and were to look for the Maam Cross described in Patterson's book, you wouldn't find it.

What do you think? Does it matter if you don't get it right?

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It matters to me. My WIP is set in 1941 DC and I'm working very hard to get it right. As right as I can, considering how much the city's changed in 66 years.

I may have forgotten to tell you that I LOVED 'Beneath a Panamanian Moon'. I've never been there but your Panama seemed real to me ...

Slan go foill,
Thanks, Pat. That made my day. You coming to the Big Country any time soon? I'm going to try to make ITW in NYC this summer, book or no book.
Yeah, you nailed the descriptions. Really made the settings come alive.

I wanted so much to be in New York (my favorite city) for ITW but events have conspired against me. We're in London end of June, beginning of July - and then my wife has to be in Scotland with her family at the very same time as ITW ... that leaves me with our two teenagers and all the other chores! Damn! I'd love to be there. Have a beer or two on me if I don't make it! And there were some special haunts of mine that I could have taken you to in the Big Apple. Talk about 'location, location, location'!
Best, Pat.
So bring the teenagers to New York. I'm sure they'll be just fine. They'll be safe with us.


They're both young ladies. Promise! So 'cross your heart and hope to die'!
Young Irish girls in NYC. What could happen? Come on, bring the kids. As Stephen said, they'll be safe with us.

Heh heh.
At the moment, I'm writing about places I've visited but have never lived nor spent extensive time.

And I have to say, it's much much more challenging than I envisioned it would be.

It used to take X amount of time to come up with the right words to describe the way a street looks and smells and sounds. Now it takes 2X. The first X is research, the second finding the right words.

Thank God for Google Earth and the Interwebs.

Maybe I should aim for XXX and write about that?
Hello Harry,

Thank you! Yeah, it's tough getting it right when you're used to describing a street and the people you know and are intimately familiar with ... boy, that sure shone through in 'The Next Time You Die'. I might add that I did my paramedic training at Fort Sam and spent a lot of time in San Antonio and whereabouts ... hey, I've got to set some action there now that I think of it!

Slan, Pat.

P.S. That photo of you looks like you've been taken apart by the denizens of your book !
I'm deathly afraid of screwing up place. Some things I can fake, but only if I have enough of a sense of the place to know what its stereotype is. The desert's hot, the ocean's wet, that sort of thing. If I can find one or two small details that add a sense of reality, I hope that's enough. But I'm pretty sure it's not.

So I prefer to focus on Los Angeles. It's safer.
"... and most importantly - to the way Russians interact, the way to approach them, the credibility of dialogue..."

Yes, I certainly agree this is the most important stuff. I don't usually like a lot physical descriptions in books, but places have character and I like to see that.

There aren't many books set in Toronto where I live now, so there's not much for me to recognize or not. There aren't even that many in Canada, but I thought Louise Penny did a great job with rural Quebec in "Still Life," and even though Giles Blunt calls the place Algonquin Bay, he's doing a great job in his John Cardinal series with the city of North Bay and surrounding area.


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