Heading off for my first research trip tomorrow.
When I used to write realistic novels, I never had the opportunity, or resources to invest in first hand research—going there. I also didn’t have the Internet, or a nearby library, so this made writing accurately rather difficult. I remember avoiding scenes that would require detailed descriptions of anything I had no means of finding out about, but which readers might know. Then I began writing Invented World Fantasy stories and research was never such a crucial aspect of the writing process. With my new book that has changed.
The bulk of the new novel is set in the DC area, but there is a scene in New York and another in Death Valley. The trip to New York was easy. I just tagged along with Robin when she went to the BEA, and while she was at the convention I wandered the Upper East Side taking notes and photos.
Tomorrow will mark the first purely novel-research-based trip. While I am taking Robin and my son with me, this is not a vacation. If I were planning a vacation, Death Valley in August would not be it. Known to be the hottest, driest and lowest place in North America, the forecasted temperature there is expected to be 120 degree highs and 85 lows. The ground—the rocks and sand—can easily reach 200 degrees—hot enough to melt sneakers. It’s like planning a recon mission to a distant planet.
Robin has her heart set on staying out there until after dark to see the stars, and at the moment we are planning on spending the night—not in a hotel, not in a cabin, not even in a tent as I’ve learned that in the heat no one wants to sleep in a tent. No the plan is to just sleep outside. Hopefully we can commandeer a blanket or something. I’ll put my son on scorpion, black widow, and rattlesnake watch.
So after landing in Vegas, we’ll need to rent a car, buy a cooler, fill it with ice and bring a minimum of a gallon of water per person per day. The car will be air-conditioned of course, and there is a store and gas station in Furnace Creek, (our primary destination), but cars have broken down before, and cell phones won’t work out there.
So we have our wide-brim hats, LED flashlights, sunscreen and map, and will disappear into the desert and should emerge Saturday. So if I don’t make my routine Sunday post…something might have gone wrong.
It’s not as dire as all that. I’ve heard they get crowds of tourists even this time of year. Still I suppose it is good for you to know that Orbit has all the manuscripts for the series and my tragic disappearance won’t affect the release of the books.