One of the things writers learn early on is to write about what they know. Toward that end, the setting for my first three Malone mysteries is the west side of Cincinnati, Ohio, my hometown. But, in my fourth book, Mistaken Identity, I decided that it was time for my characters (and me) to step outside of their comfort zone and travel to Fripp Island, South Carolina, an island I visited on vacation one year.
Even though I write fiction, I want my books to be as accurate as possible. So, whenever I travel, I pick up brochures, maps and any literature I can get my hands on – and I save it – because I never know when I’ll use it in another book. As we all know, places change constantly. Streets are renamed, buildings are torn down, etc. and, even though lots of information can be found at the library and online, having information on hand for the time period I’m writing about is worth its weight in gold. For example, one of the times I visited Charleston was in 2009, which is within the time frame for my series. Fortunately, I had gotten a street map, brought it home and kept it. Believe me when I tell you that that map is going to come in handy in a future book.
When I write, I use settings I'm familiar with because I need to have a "feel" for a place in order to write about it. So, in Mistaken Identity, which will be published by Post Mortem Press in just a few months, I also used Charleston, Beaufort and Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, other places I’ve been. I do a good bit of research for my books too but, to me, nothing beats “hands on” experience. And I take lots of pictures wherever I go. (Go to “Places” under “Pages” on the right side of my blog to see several photos of locations that will appear in Mistaken Identity.)