It’s hard enough to write about a place you know well. What do you do when your story takes place somewhere you’ve never been?
Let’s say you have a great idea for a novel set in Granada, Spain, but you’ve never been outside the USA. How do you make the setting realistic? More to the point, how do you keep from making the sort of gaffe that will make readers who have been there throw your book across the room?
Yeah, I said Google Earth. For research. What do I know about that? Well, not to brag, but some people may even consider me a bit of an expert on research. Either that, or I completely fooled the staff putting together the Writer’s Guide to 2011 – in which I am quoted numerous times in the chapter titled “Making the Most of Research with Technology.”
But enough about me. Let’s talk some more about me.
I decided, for some reason I cannot explain, that the sequel to Lust for Danger HAD to contain a scene in a skyscraper next to the Danube River in Vienna. Keep in mind, I write faction, so that building had to actually exist. I asked a number of people, and they couldn’t think of one. So, I turned to Google Earth. I scanned along the banks of the Danube until I saw a long shadow: from a skyscraper. Voila!
But that’s not all. Google Earth does SO much more than let you look down from a satellite.
Google Earth is a free, downloadable product. It does use quite a bit of memory, but if you’re doing locational research, it’s an invaluable tool. I’m no techie, by any means. I don’t get how to use some of the bells and whistles of this program. I have managed, however, to use it to find the perfect sites for fictional near-drownings, black ops assaults, and a really nice place for my characters to get a cup of coffee. Continue reading “Author Tools: Google Earth”