It didn’t take me long to discover that Google Earth can be a writers best friend. I bet you’re scratching your head over that one. In Purity Lost, book two of my series, I needed a town in Montana to be the home town of a main charter in that book. Have I ever been to Montana? No, but I have virtually.
I started by just searching for the name of a town I liked, one with character and personality. One that was also about the right size population wise, then I googled it on google maps and set it to street view. Once in street view I was able walk around the town and pick out landmarks that I could accurately describe, thus making it sound as if I’d spent time in a town I’d never actually been to before. Yes, I’m sure I could have done a better if I’d actually been there, but I’m just a poor author at present. I’m hoping that in the not so distant future I’ll be a not so poor author and take me a trip out to Montana to visit a place that holds such a special place in my heart. So here’s to you, Big Timber, MT. I’ll be out there to see you real soon. Here’s one of the streets of Big Timber:
In Blood’s Solemn Vow, the fifth book in my series, I visit Mendlesham, England. Again, a place I’ve never been to before. Fortunately I have been to a small town in England not to terribly far from Mendlesham and I was able to draw on a few impressions from that trip. But Google Earth supplied all the details of Mendlesham that were needed to make it sound as if I’d actually been there. Here’s a little of what Mendlesham looks like:
Another good resource I used in both areas was real estate listings on line. When I was searching for a home in Big Timber to use, once I’d settled on Big Timber as the town, I started looking at real estate listings. It allowed me to see detailed layouts of homes that were off in the hills like the one my characters live in. I really feel this helped me a lot. I did the same with Mendlesham. It’s just another way you can gain insight into a place you’ve never been before.