Writing Books/Research

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Question
Hi Mr Wales, I'm writing a story set in California, but I'd like to know how you would research this area geographically -- Really,I need to establish a routine which I can employ for any new location within a story...

Thanks for your time,any advice on this will be appreciated,
Best,
Hannah

Answer
Hannah:

Call me "Mr. Wales" again and I'll give you all wrong answers!  Please call me Vince.  :)

Anyway... as for research, quite a lot depends on exactly what it is you need to know, and in how much detail.  

The Internet has, obviously, made all kinds of research MUCH easier for writers.  States have official homepages filled with all kinds of info.  So do most cities and towns.  The Yellow Pages are available for most locales, too.  There's also AllExperts' sister site, About.com, where many folks have sections about specific areas.  And of course, lots of regular ol' people have sites devoted to their towns.

Even geographical photos are available online at sites such as www.terraserver.com, where you can enter a town's name and get a full color image of it.  

And don't forget the best source of information: people who live there!  Chat rooms and email lists can make you a research "pen pal" real quick.

Real estate websites are often pretty useful, too, for getting an idea of what areas are like.

But as I said, it depends really on what sort of information you're looking for.  If you have more specific questions, just ask!

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Vincent M. Wales

Expertise

I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.

Experience

For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

Education/Credentials
BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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