(This posting originally appeared on The Melt-Ink Pot)
In the latest installment of my ongoing saga of how to use up my surplus PTO, today (later today, after I’ve slept, that is), I’m going off to do some research.
A friend of mine and I are heading off to Kimball, Nebraska, which is two and a half to three hours northeast of here. And it just happens to be the hometown of Phoebe Caldicott, the MC of my space pirate series. Phoebe’s a librarian who stayed behind in the comfortable security of her hometown, rather than venturing forth into the wild world (at least until the day she got on the wrong plane at the wrong time).
So I have plans to visit the library where she would have worked, and the store where she would have bought her groceries. With luck, I’ll find a house that could have been the one where she grew up, and an apartment or duplex where she lived up until that fateful plane crash. I might even cruise past her high school.
I’m hoping the trip will give me new insights into Phoebe’s character and provide the impetus I need to start working on the story again. I suppose if nothing else, I can also take notes and pictures to use for a setting for something else sometime.
In theory, I also have relatives in the town (which was one of the reasons I picked it), along the lines of second or third cousins. I wouldn’t know how to go about looking them up, though, and I doubt I’d recognize any of them if I saw them on the street. I have vague memories of going there as a child for the 50th wedding anniversary of an aunt and uncle of my father’s (which would make them my great-aunt and -uncle if they were still alive, but since that was back in the 70’s, I’d guess not).
I’ll be happy to report back on what I learn that I didn’t already know. It will be interesting to make comparisons between using the internet and Google Street View and actually going someplace to soak it all in. And I have to admit that I’m kind of excited by the idea of my first “real” research trip.
Has anyone else ever gone to research a location, or even made a trip to a library or museum to research a character or setting?