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Writing Books/writing fiction using actual locations


I am attempting my first fiction novel. I am taking an online creative writing class and reading all the research material I can get my hands on. I am however concerned about the location/s of my story. Is it ok to use real cities, counties, sheriffs offc, hospitals, freeways etc. I cant seem to get a straight answer on this.

Hi, Donna!

You may certainly use real cities, counties and freeways. It's done every day. But the trick with using real sheriff's offices and hospitals is that real people work there. It starts to get complicated to know the real-life rules and regulations that people there work by and if you get them wrong...let's say it can be a problem.

That said, most every writer does it, and so long as you don't say bad things or make allegations about stupid or incompetent people, it's seldom critical. What a lot of us do is actually CONTACT the business you want to use and ask questions. Often, there's a media person on staff that can answer general questions about the proper procedures to write in the book and grant permission to use the actual name of the business. Otherwise, it might be easier to create a brand new hospital that you can play with that's just down the road ("just built") from the real one, or add a layer of governmental hierarchy to the county. (LOL! Like there aren't enough entities already!)

Hope that helps a little. Feel free to ask any more questions if I didn't quite answer what you needed to know. :)


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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