Friday, June 10, 2016

Research for one novel turned into research for another

     Today was a strange day. It didn't quite go as planned, but ended up being productive all the same. In a previous post--Seeing Things as a Writer--I talked about my trip up to Nederland, (a long, tedious, 30 minute drive), a small mountain town in Colorado. I'd been up there several times but wanted to take a look at it as a writer so I could get a better feel for small mountain towns and what Caribou Canyon--the setting in City of Secrets--is like. Not that I didn't already have an idea of what Caribou Canyon is like, I just wanted to further solidify the setting for the next draft. I definitely plan to paint a picture for readers, but I want to find that fine line between describing the setting and not describing it. I want readers to get their own sense of the town based on their experiences. From the comments I got on that post, that's what was already happening.

For the sake of ambience, I want to do some of the writing in the mountains, and visit a few more towns that are around the same size (population wise) of Caribou Canyon. Today I decided it was time to visit Idaho Springs, another small town that's a bit further up, but still a reasonable driving distance. I've actually only been there once before, because really, there isn't a whole lot to do there, other than the fact that it's the site of the original Beau Jo's pizza. Now, that's pretty cool, but it's not really worth a drive up to the mountains for, considering that there's a Beau Jo's here in Boulder.

Beau Jo's is authentic mountain style pizza, meaning it has a huge thick crust (I think someone just decided that's what constitutes mountain pizza) and lots of grease (of course). So, if you're a die hard lover of New York style pizza you will not be happy, but I think it's pretty good. I don't discriminate against my pizza. Actually, the point of Idaho Springs is to have a place to stop to go to the bathroom and maybe have lunch (at Beau Jo's) on your way up to Caribou Canyon, I mean Aspen.

I just realized that last paragraph sounded a lot like a brochure. I'm sorry. I really didn't mean for it to.

So, back to my trip. The first thing I did was stop at the visitor's center and get a map. It's now tucked away next to my map of Nederland. I also bought a little book about Colorado wildflowers, which is going to be extremely helpful for my next draft. "Can't you just look those up on the Internet," you ask? I could, but that didn't go so well when I tried it for the first draft. Those who read it might remember, and might be laughing right now. By the end of that draft I was just typing "that stupid trail of flowers." I now possess the tools to solve the problem. I also grabbed a brochure about living with bears, because for some reason I just grabbed it. I hope there isn't a bear in my future.

Unfortunately, since my legs and foot hurt, I couldn't walk around too much, so I had to drive. Idaho Springs did not give me the Caribou Canyon vibe that Nederland did. I'm not sure why, it just didn't. I won't be going back up there, at least not for CoS related things.

My next plan was to stop at a coffee shop and write, but all of the coffee shops were on main street, I mean Miner Street. Miner Street was packed with people and there was absolutely nowhere to park, close or far.

I was not thwarted. I came up with a new plan. Guess what cities are not too far from Idaho Springs? Central City and Black Hawk. Guess who needed to do some research for an entirely different novel in one or both of those cities? That's right. Me.

I pushed City of Secrets to the back of my mind and called New Year's Revolution to the forefront again. First thing I needed to know was just how close to Idaho Springs Central City is. Yes, a map could answer this for me, but I needed to know if a nightly walk or bike ride would be conceivable. The answer: it's possible, but why put my MC through the torture, considering what I'm already putting her through? So the cabin outside Idaho Springs will have to be relocated.

More importantly, I needed to check out the hotel/casinos in Central City and Black Hawk to find one that would be suitable for my characters to claim. Sure, I could make one up, but I want to use a real one. I already had one in mind, the Ameristar, but the only reason I had it in mind was because it's the only one I've stayed at several times. I didn't want to pick it just because I've been there. I knew a research trip was necessary, and soon, because I'm almost to that part of the book. So, it's weird that today worked out the way it did.

Central City and Black Hawk are technically two separate cities, but they practically aren't. They're very small and one basically just runs right into the other. Surrounding them is nothing but mountains and trees and creek, and then, boom: casino town, and boom: another casino town. Whichever one you hit first depends on which direction you're coming from. I wanted to pick a hotel and casino that would be big enough to hold a lot of people (it's post apocalypse) and one with enough floors so they could get a view of the streets at night for  surveillance (so they can stay inside, safe from the vampires).

I hit Central City first, and there was nothing even close to big enough for my needs, so I headed toward Black Hawk. As I was driving, I saw one building towering over all the others, and I thought, "That's it! That's the one I want!" I get into Black Hawk, and guess which casino the building is? It's the Ameristar, the one I had in mind all along! I hadn't recognized it at first because I'm usually coming from the opposite direction. So, I didn't even need to go inside and check it out, since I already knew what it looked like.

So, I didn't get done the writing I'd wanted to get done today, but I managed to do research for two different books, and I now know which casino I'll be using. I feel accomplished and excited about both City of Secrets and New Year's Revolution.

Remember, City of Secrets is coming out on Jukepop serials in early July! (I will probably remind you once or twice more before then.)