But I write in the present and like to keep things real. For technology, it's almost impossible. Even if I had a three-book contract and my books were all in production, by the time they hit the shelves, they'd be out of date. I tiptoe around some of these issues by creating my own covert ops teams working for a made-up company so I can give them what they need to have, and I can fudge a little on the 'it doesn't work that way'—because I think there's an implied "yet". I've only set one book and one short story in a real city, again, because things change so quickly. My hero and heroine in one book had dinner at a Thai restaurant in my neighborhood. After the book had gone into production, the restaurant closed. (And so did its replacement; we're up to the third restaurant in that location.) Another Thai restaurant showed up in the same shopping center, but not where the original was.
This hit me again as I was reading early books in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. They took place in New York, and there were not only references to the Twin Towers, but one of the characters had an office in one of the buildings. Even knowing the books were written pre-9/11, it still had a kind of creepy feel.
Certainly when authors write about major metropolitan areas, or even small home towns, they're likely to use real landmarks. I love when Harry Bosch goes to the Farmers Market in LA, because I grew up there. But what if it closed? It's already totally different from the way it was when I was a child, but it's still there, and many of the remembered shops remain. (But I still wish Harry Bosch had seen the baker frosting one of the 'pink elephant' cakes when he stood in front of Humphrey's window.)
At breakfast yesterday, my friend said she'd re-read Second Chance Rose after going to LA with her grandchildren and visiting the museums and rose garden where so much of the story takes place. She said she doubly enjoyed it because she was going, "Yes! The dinosaurs! I saw them!" And, she'd walked through the rose garden where Rose met Richard. For her, the story became more alive because she could relate to the setting. But what if she'd gone there and they'd bulldozed the rose garden, or replaced the T-rex and Triceratops skeletons in the lobby with an old Model T Ford?
What do you think? If you pick up a book and read about something that no longer exists, does it bother you? Do you prefer everything be made up so there's no chance of being out of date, at least with setting?
Today's Gratitude List
1. A new blog follower
2. My hot herbal shoulder wrap
3. An empty bike at the Y this morning