Friday, June 12, 2009

Road Trip Research

I took another trip down the Natchez Trace Parkway this week with my research assistant/photographer (my daughter). There were a few stops on the 444-mile trek that I needed to revisit to clear up some setting details for my book.
One of the highest points in the state of Mississippi is at the Jeff Busby site. I thought we would have to take the hiking trail up to the overlook summit, but the park service has made it easy for everyone to see the beautiful view. You can drive right up to the area and park your car. For the more adventurous, there is a hiking trail down from the summit to the campground area. We hiked part of the way down the trail. I think my daughter would have happily hiked the whole way, but my failure to pack bug spray and knowing that the hike down was the easy part, made us turn back about halfway down the trail.

This is a photo of another hiker we saw at the top of the trail.

I am glad that I made it to the Jeff Busby site again. The convenience store and gas station previously located there is now closed. The pay telephone that was of great interest to my character in the first draft of my story has been removed from the site. There is good cell phone reception at the overlook point, something I would not have known without a visit.

For readers: Do you enjoy reading books set in real locations more than stories set in fictional towns?

For writers: Do you find it easier to write about real places or made-up locales?


Tom said...

Hi Rae,
I think that as a reader, I enjoy reading stories that take place in real locations, it adds quite a bit especially when I've actually been there. As a writer, fictional is waaay easier. Especially if the place you're writing about is so far away, you can't go there without refinancing the house and selling the car. And Google Earth only shows you so much. AND it can't look back 60 odd years.

Terri Hoover Dunham said...

I agree with Tom that writing about a fictional place is way easier, unless of course it's a place you are very familiar with. But it can be very enjoyable to research a location. -- As for reading, I also enjoy reading a story set in a place I'm familiar with or about to visit. But I also enjoy reading fantasy, where the whole world is created by the author. -- I really enjoyed your blog post.

Alli said...

Hmmm... It's always fun when the place is real, and if you ever get to go, you can scout out the locales for certain scenes :) But, fictional works for me if the author is really specific and double-checks themselves throughout the book to make sure there are no inconsistencies--then the place seems real. Unfortunately, I am good at finding inconsistencies, so the author has to be really good at checking! If you ever want me to read thru a MS for you, let me know--I won't hold back :)

Rae Ann Parker said...

TOM: I really enjoy books set in New Orleans, since I lived there for so long. And sometimes I even got tips on new restaurants to try!

TERRI: Thanks for stopping by the blog! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I have enjoyed the research on the Natchez Trace book, a lot. But it also took a lot of work (of course) so it took longer to write the book than I expected. Not a bad thing, just good to know.

ALLI: I do enjoy reading books in fictional worlds. I have written 2 books in a fictional town and one in an alternate world. It was much easier to write than a real place, BUT I needed to make maps to keep things straight, which I learned early on. And I just might take you up on reading though a ms some day. Thanks!

James Oh said...

I can't comment much except to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog.

Rae Ann Parker said...

Thanks for stopping by, JAMES OH. I'm glad you like the blog.