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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, May 08, 2008

How Well Do You Know Your Town? -- Esri Rose

I set my book, Bound to Love Her, in my town – Boulder, Colorado. Boulder is full of weird characters, and so are my books, so it seemed like a natural fit. Plus, I’m lazy. But I’m here to tell you that the devil is in the details, and you're not off the research hook just because you live in your book's setting. Here’s a quick quiz to test your knowledge of home-sweet-home.

1) Your character stays in a motel in your town. What does it cost to spend a night there? Not only might you be shocked at the price, but it will probably change by the time your book is published.

2) Your character makes an emergency withdrawal of cash from an ATM. What’s the limit on what she can take out?

3) Your character winds up in the hospital. I thought all emergency waiting rooms had white linoleum. Turns out ours has carpeting. How about yours?

4) Your character has the same college degree you do, but you went to university in another state. Does your local school even have that program?

5) Your character throws an incriminating paper out of her office window. Does that office building actually have windows that open? Most multi-story buildings don’t.

6) Your character meets a mysterious stranger in the fiction section of your library. If she's standing in the very last aisle, what genre books are on the shelves around her?

The benefits of setting your book locally are many. For example, if you feature the salon where you get your hair cut, they might agree to put a stack of your promotional bookmarks at the counter. But when your character gets a hot-stone massage there, make sure it’s your salon that does those, and not the competitor you once visited with a gift certificate.

So how did you score on my little quiz?
Have you ever written a horrible mistake about your own town?

Hey, do you want the chance to win a copy of Bound to Love Her? Then head over to my guest post on Noodler Jill Monroe's blog and read the dark (but funny) secret of how elves threaten all of humanity. Jill will pick a winner from the commenters. I think you have until the end of Sunday for your comments to count, but don't quote me on that.

Bound to Love Her (In stores now!) is an urban-fantasy, romantic-suspense comedy. With elves. Visit me at my website,


At 10:13 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

I did my dangdest to get it 'right' when I set Starting Over in Orlando. I met a SWAT commander at the Y and he was kind enough to let me pick his brain. I asked him questions like, "what color are the walls and what's on the floor" and he really had to stop and think. He invited me for a tour, and he was wrong about the colors! But he was terrific about showing me how my deputy would have accessed the building, hooked up computers, etc. as well as answering a lot of procedure questions. I still got stuff 'wrong' because I didn't know all the questions I should have been asking.

And after insisting dh and I eat at a local Thai restaurant several times (not really a problem for him!), so I could set an authentic scene there, the restaurant closed before the book was published, but it wasn't worth the rewrite.

Likewise, the remodeling at my Y made some of my scenes "wrong" -- but what can you do?

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

That's another risk with writing about local businesses. They close.

Great examples, Terry!

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

What may be worse is to have your EDITORS live in the town where you set your books.

In Scandalising the Ton, (note the British spelling)one of the Mills & Boon editors did a walk through Mayfair in London to discover I had my main setting details all wrong. Luckily that was before revisions.

Esri, please tell us. Did you have your character get a hot-stone massage at YOUR salon when it was their competitor who offered the service?

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

That's what makes using a real setting a bit intimidating. But it just means we have a little work to do.

Same applies to a fictional town juxtaposed with real places, because it better fit within that regional as opposed to feeling like some weird place that dropped out of the sky. (Unless of course your book is about life in a weird place that feels as though it just dropped out of the sky...)

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

If ONLY I'd thought to have something set in my salon. Unfortunately, it turns out the elves don't purchase a lot of goods or services. They just steal stuff.

No, the one I got wrong was the hospital waiting room. I had been to the emergency room when Neighbor Brad had his motorcycle accident on Christmas Eve, but I got the floor covering wrong, and there probably aren't any vending machines, either. Memory is just sooo unreliable.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Hey, for those of you who were early birds, I just added a paragraph at the end of this blog post about how you can maybe win a copy of my book by commenting on my guest post at Jill Monroe's blog (May 7th entry).

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

When I was in London recently, the hotel windows actually opened. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. I hate when I can't open a window in the hotels...

These are great reminders, Esri. Carpet in the emergency room, huh?! Who would have guessed?

At 8:53 PM, Blogger doglady said...

Hmm. It would be easy for me to set a story in the little town where I live as I have walked every inch of it and been in every business, some of which have been here for a hundred years! In fact the movies BIG FISH and THE GRASS HARP were filmed here because the town looks like it did 100 years ago.

Fortunately I lived in a little village in England that hasn't changed that much either. I have set some scenes in my Regency historical there.

I set my Gothic historical/Regency in Dunwich and London. Dunwich is a place I visited as a child AFTER reading Lovecraft and it made quite an impression.

But for London and Mayfair I have to do a lot of research and I know I have not even scratched the surface.


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