Next week I'm taking myself (and my books, it looks like) on a whirlwind getaway... or something like that. I'm trying to turn my Nanowrimo project from last fall into the genuine article: a real, shoppable YA manuscript, this time with a hook (I'm not so sure my last book had a hook, or a real plot, but anyway!). It turns out that when you write a book in a month, you can't take breaks for research. Which just means that the research will have to come later.
My latest project, with constantly changing titles (including one that was the title of a John Farnham song), partially takes place in Eugene, Oregon (in the Whiteaker neighborhood). It also takes place in an unnamed Chicago suburb. Of course, that part was easy to write, since I worked in one every day and knew the area very well. But it's been something like 6 years since I spent a summer in Eugene and my memory's a little hazy. I recall bungalows painted in bright colors, lots of Tibetan flags, Rastafarians, college students on the 8 year plan, etc. The book is set in 2006, so I can take some liberties. I just hope that Eugene hasn't changed. It was the one place I traveled within the United States that felt truly unique, somehow untouched by all the changes and modernization. Sure, it had strip malls somewhere, but I hardly noticed them. Eugene had this unique energy and it radiated through most of the people I met there. I hope I can find it again.
Anyway, the whole idea of traveling somewhere especially for book research is kind of exciting, right? It would help if I knew exactly what I was looking for. I guess it's those details that connect the place to the story, that make it feel specific and real. I can't wait to take hundreds of photographs to keep the details real and firm in my memory, long after the trip. Or that somehow, I'll have the time and resources to actually integrate them into the story while I'm there.
Here's hoping the place I'm staying has plenty of outlets. I'm going to need 'em.