Sunday, August 22, 2010

Real Settings for Fiction

I first saw this house out of the corner of my eye as we drove past it last year. Since then, it has become part of the setting for the novel I'm working on. The large, log house on its high foundation of fieldstone stuck in my mind. It was perfect.

Last weekend we drove north to visit family, and I tried to find "my" house again. It wasn't where I thought it should be. We took a different route home, and suddenly, "That's it!"

Turning around, we went back to get a closer look. I was surprised to find the place deserted, the big front door padlocked, and the grounds overgrown. But that afforded me the opportunity to photograph it from several angles, without fear of being run off the property.

This isn't the first time I've gone looking for a real setting for one of my works of fiction. I was inspired by a spooky-looking mansion, set among tall trees, in deep shadows at the end of a long driveway for the mystery, The Deep End Gang (2003). 

I kept a picture postcard of the massive rock at Bon Echo on Mazinaw Lake, Ontario, above my desk when I was writing Sky Lake Summer, back in 1999. It kept reminding me of what my characters were up against in the story.

For Treasure at Turtle Lake (2007), I needed to count the number of steps in an outside staircase that led from an alley to a flat over a store. There were twenty-two.

It was a "belvedere" I was after for Trouble at Turtle Narrows (2008), a room at the top of a house, with windows on all four sides that "perched on the rooftop like a little glass hat." I found just the right architecture in some of the older houses in northern New York State.

Write on!

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