Road trip!

Published April 6, 2011 by barbaraannwright

So, Georgia seemed the perfect place to set my new novel. They’ve got the terrain I want. They’ve got the critters that are integral to my story. All in all, you’re a perfect fit, Georgia baby.

There’s only one problem. I’ve never been to Georgia, not really. A former road trip clipped the corner one time, and I think I might have gone through it as a child (I can’t remember.) Oh sure, I’ve done a lot of surfing with Google maps. I’ll probably bust out Google Earth one of these days when I have hours to spend. (Because that’s how much time it sucks away from you. First Georgia, then Paris, then Cairo, and oh, you get the idea.)

I live in Texas and have lived here for most of my life. (I once lived in Arkansas for six months.) I know a few people from Georgia, though, so that helps with speech. A relative once told me that, “Country is country,” so I’m not too worried about dialect.

I know before I finish that I’ll have to go to Georgia, probably via road trip, and spend some actual time there, getting a feel for it, getting a smell for it and most of all, driving the route my characters are going to take so I can find out some things that I need. Like, did I put that motel in the right place. Is there really a diner there? Is their barbeque sauce as good as rumor has it? That’s, um, very important to my novel. Yes, and has almost totally little to nothing to do with my love of barbeque.

Ahem.

Oh, as an aside–and yes, it has to do with barbeque sauce–I love the condiment section at grocery stores here in South Texas. There’s a small ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise section and then a whopping big barbeque section. It’s almost the entire aisle along with a large selection of pickles. Is it that way in West Texas, Maria?

So, right, Georgia. I must take a trip there before summer’s end. Any suggestions as to when? It’ll probably have to be in June or July. I know it’s going to be hot, but I’m from the South. I can do hot. Anyone from there? Lived there? Have you ever written about a real place you’ve never actually been? Did you wind up road-tripping it there?

Also, I’ll be posting on another topic today at Fansci. Come on over and say hello.

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8 comments on “Road trip!

  • If you don’t have a specific place in mind, let me know when you’re heading there and I’ll ask Bill if his house is empty. He’s moved down here to work with Husband, but since it was a bad time for selling houses he rents it instead.

    Georgia/Texas differences that I can remember — having visited my sister in El Paso one Christmas and Bill later in some small Georgia town whose name I don’t currently remember (and having driven through Atlanta multiple times)… Georgia is greener then Texas. Trees, grass, weeds. Things grow there. The parts of Texas I was in, you could tell the rich people by who had more than one living plant in their yard. Atlanta and El Paso are both huge, though El Paso had more levels of road. Atlanta has the occasional overpass but most of their roads are along the ground.

    From what I understand, both are similarly religious and conservative. (Being a liberal atheist, I may be a little off on that — one flavor of religion is the same as another to me.) I know Krugers becomes the usual grocery store once you go further North, but I think it’s still Publix there.

    And Bill does collect BBQ sauce like it’s going out of style so I assume there’s something of a fetish in both places. If you want to chat with him about Georgia, he’s the only Bill in my facebook friends list :)

  • I think it’s possible to convey the flavour of an area in a story without actually travelling there. In fact, I prefer a fictitious setting to a real one. My novels are mostly set in fictitious towns within my home province except for occasional forays into Vancouver, which is a city I know very well. I’ve travelled all across Canada, however, and north through Yukon and Alaska, so would feel comfortable using other areas of our country. In the U.S. I’ve only travelled down the west coast. No experience in Texas or Georgia, I’m afraid.

  • I’ve used a few real settings, usually after I’ve been there. Otherwise, I stick with somewhere made-up. There have been a few times when I’ve desperately wanted to travel back to the location to double check details, but alas, the travel budget doesn’t exist yet… heh. Hope you make it to Georgia this summer!

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