There's nothing I love more than a little day trip in the name of research! Dirty Little Secret (originally Work For It) took over my life last summer for a couple weeks. Once Gemma and Bret materialized in my head, they refused to be ignored until I told every bit of their story. I chose Newport, Rhode Island for the setting because I wanted something that I was familiar with that I hadn't used in a book before. Once the story came to light, Newport was perfect place.
I'm only about an hour away, so I've already been to Newport many times, and I'm in the Providence area quite often. I felt like I had enough of a working knowledge to write the book. I'd already established Gemma working at Roger Williams Zoo, as well as the scenes with boat. But I decided to take a trip to both, just to make sure I had all my details perfect.
Good thing I went.
The original draft of the story talked a lot about lions. What zoo doesn't have lions? That's right, Roger Williams. At least at the time I visited. I changed any lion parts to giraffes and other animals. I also learned a ton about elephants and how to take care of them from my visit.
Newport isn't a huge town, so when I found the Yachting Center online, I figured that had to be the one near Thames Street and America's Cup Avenue in the center of town. At least I'm consistent! The place I was thinking of is the Marina. I almost kept it as I had it, but there was no way that Nikki and Matt would've walked that far to go to the Blues Club. Especially after drinking all day long.
I was batting a thousand with my Newport assumptions. I claimed there was an alley on the side of the Blues Club. Nope. But it does have a sidewalk with a parking lot behind it.
So it was a day well spent. I immediately made the changes to the story when I got home. It was cool to do the research after I wrote the book because I knew exactly what I was looking for.
When I wrote Exposed, I set in Nashville with a purpose. You know, research. Since one of my best friends moved down there a few years ago, I thought it was the perfect time to make another visit. Sorry, Leigh. I have yet to make it down there again, so I had to shy away from using real places. I'm coming. I promise. Something tells me Gemma and Bret will have more to say. They're good like that.