Thursday, September 5, 2013
PICTURING THE SETTING - by Lena Nelson Dooley
When I quit working full-time and stayed home to write (the first time that happened), I started volunteering in our local library. I'm a real people person, and writing is a solitary endeavor. Imagine my surprise when they put me in the back of the library mending books. Still not much contact with actual people. But I learned a lot about how a library runs.
Every library has a reference librarian. This person will help people find the information they need. Since the advent of cell phones with nationwide free long distance, I have contacted a few of these librarians when I couldn't find information.
I decided to contact the Seattle Public Library. I didn't ask for anyone to do my research for me, just a few suggestions on books about the time period. I hit the Mother Lode.
Seattle Public Library system had digitized literally thousands of historical photos and loaded them on line by decade. I used a number of these pictures to help me construct in my mind the areas of the city that I could use in my book. Also, I found a similar site for San Francisco, which is one of the settings in the book three, Catherine's Pursuit.
At one time in writing Maggie's Journey, I wanted to find the name of a nice hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1885. When I used Google to find the information, a map of St. Louis in 1885 appeared along with photos and text about various buildings and areas of the city. Another valuable moment.
Here are a few of the links I've been using:
The use of research enriches all my books, whether historical or contemporary.
If you've read my McKenna's Daughters books and Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, please share with us which of the settings you liked best.