Thursday, March 24, 2011


Did you ever wonder why an author chooses a particular setting for a book? Perhaps the author has been there before or has always loved a certain place and longed to go there. Travel becomes possible, not to mention easy and cheap, through the pages of a book. With a little research, traveling to the bottom of the ocean or to the top of the highest mountain peak is entirely possible. An author can take her characters wherever she chooses. The trick, in my opinion, is to write it in such a way that someone who has been there recognizes the place and feels right at home. But that same setting also has to lure others who have never traveled down that road and make them realize the beauty of a setting they may never experience in real life. Perhaps the author's descriptions will even encourage someone to travel to that special spot in the future.
The photo above was taken in Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington State. Notice the hiking trail that curves steadily upward. Hiding behind all those clouds is the majestic peak of Mt. Rainier in all its snow covered glory. Unfortunately, it chose not to show its face on the day this photo was taken.
If you've read our book you know that Peggy and Mark have a hiking adventure in Mt. Rainier National Park on the Paradise Trails. It is a glorious, breathtaking vista worthy of any traveler's dreams. Because Sandy and I had actually seen this special place with our own eyes, we chose to use it in our book. We hiked on the trails of Paradise, so we at least had some first hand experiences to use for our fictional account.
We still researched out the kazoo to verify our memories, and we also investigated other places and settings that we chose to use as well. One that sticks out in my mind is the highly evolved investigative technique we used to solidify our descriptions for the Oklahoma countryside when Kiki and Dan were driving through it. You see, one time when Sandy came to Texas for a visit during the time we were writing the book, I drove to Dallas to pick her up and bring her back to North Texas where I live. It was dark by then, and we were merrily yakking away as I drove northward. Suddenly we saw the bright neon lights of a gigantic casino off to the right of the highway. I had driven across the Oklahoma border without even noticing! Needless to say, we had to turn around and backtrack.
The next day - in the sunshine - we once again drove across the Red River into Oklahoma, but this time it was intentional. We were on a fact-finding mission to explore the countryside for our setting and plot. As I drove, Sandy made notes as we passed the flat landscape and small towns. All those notes turned into the descriptions we used in our book. So research comes in all shapes and sizes.
"Paradise" can be any place, at any time. It is in the eye of the author who chooses the settings for her book and in the eye of the reader who sees through the author's eyes.
~ Miss Pickles (alias Sandra)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sandra,

    I was right to say that we are kindred souls. I even had the similar driving experience that you described above. Except, it was in 1968 when I lived in South Bend, Indiana. I drove to Chicago for a weekend trip. Half way on my way home, 2am Monday morning, I came upon a construction detour sign, I drove for another hour thinking I should be home soon. Suddenly, I saw the blazing lights on the sign "Welcome to Chicago". It took another two hours before I finally got home.

    Well...Simon Yang


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