I have a confession. I know you’ll find this shocking, but I wrote the entire first draft of Now I Knew You without ever having been to the city I chose for my setting.
Yes, I too am appalled.
Actually, I can claim innocence. Because Elk Rapids, Michigan is just the outline of my setting. I tried to stay as true to the geography and feel of the village as much as possible, but by changing the name to a fictional Cherry Hill, I gave myself a little creative leeway. After all, Elk Rapids has no bookstore downtown. Cherry Hill does.
It’s a real treat to visit a place you’ve spent months studying online. True, it’s not much different than many Up North Michigan tourist towns, many of which I have visited. But to get the real feel of it, I dragged my poor wife on what will likely be the coldest Saturday of October out to Elk Rapids.
And I’m glad I did.
If not, we never would have discovered this charming library or the bridge leading to it.
Or the mysterious crying bear (I suspect it has something to do with the legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes)
And I never would have dreamed of a better building for Cherry Hill’s “Books on the Bay” bookstore.
So that’s what writers do when we take vacations. We go to the worlds we dream up. And sometimes we find they’re even better in real life. And, of course, it’s always an excuse for one last camping trip.