Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I need a hooker


Yes, hookers.  I’m off to Savannah next week to research an upcoming book.  I’m mooching off a friend who lives near Savannah and she asked me the kind of things I needed to now.  One of them was where the hookers hang in Savannah.  She has no idea.  How awkward will it be to go traipsing into a seedy bar, looking like the middle-aged woman I am, asking the barkeep where to find a hooker?  There has to be an easier and less humiliating way.

So aside from the hooker dilemma, there are some perks to actually going to the setting you’re going to use.  It helps to know the sights, sounds and architecture of a city.  Not to mention the one-way streets and an assorted back alley or two.  Restaurants are a must, and a tax deduction.  I haven’t been to Savannah in 20 or 30 years, so I’m sure much has changed.  I know there’s some line about being above or below Gaston Street that separates the wealthy from the rest of us, but I can’t recall if that’s north or south.  Plus I get the perk of seeing a dear friend.

But do I always go to this much trouble?  Nope.  I did a seven book series set in Montana and never set foot in the place.  Instead I found a couple of folks from Montana online who were willing to share their info with me and I subscribed to a weekly newspaper from a small town to get the feel for what was news.  And just as an FYI, they report births and deaths, including the bovine variety.  Now Montana is a pretty easy place to fudge.  There are tons of famous paintings and photos of Montana, so I just went to the library and found some images I could use as a reference.  The state is so huge and so sparsely populated that my fake town just had to be small and surrounded by lots of land.   And the other thing I did . . . joined the Cattleman’s Association.  I now know all things cow.  More than I wanted to know, actually.  Animal husbandry sounds gross and there’s no way I’d want to stick my arm up the whoops-a-daisy of a distressed animal.  Hell, I wouldn’t want to do it with a happy cow.

No one told me when I started writing a gazillion years ago that I’d be doing stuff like this.  I’ll date myself and tell you it’s so much easier with the internet, no more ten cents a copy on those library reference books.  The other thing I like is how willing people are to talk about themselves and their lives.  I set a couple of books in New Orleans, had gone there to a conference so I had the lay and feel of the land, but I needed to talk to a prosecutor.  It took me all of two phone calls and I was speaking to the prosecutor in no time.  He told me all about their judicial system (Parishes instead of counties) and even gave me the language for the charging documents (you have to specify that a human being was murdered – as opposed to what I’m not sure).  Great info and yes I acknowledge all these people in my books.  It’s only fair.

Now I’m just wondering what to pack for my day of hunting hookers.  At least my friend will be with me so I won’t chicken out.

You gotta live research.

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