Guest Post: “The Problems of Location” by Tim Lebbon
The BiblioSanctum is pleased to be a stop on the blog tour for The Folded Land, the follow up to the critically acclaimed Relics by horror and thriller writer Tim Lebbon. Today we have a guest post by the author himself, in which he talks about the methods of researching the setting for his new novel from Titan Books, which is available in stores now. Check it out, and be sure to join the fun and visit the other stops on the tour!
THE PROBLEMS OF LOCATION
by Tim Lebbon
I really wish I could afford to travel and research the places where I set some of my novels. If I could afford a research trip every nine months, my novels would undoubtedly be set in ever-more exotic locations. A apocalyptic tale based around Alaska … a supernatural murder mystery in Sweden … an adventure thriller in the Himalayas.
Actually, talk amongst yourselves while I make some notes.
In reality, quite a few of my stories are based close to where I live, for the obvious reasons. Sometimes, however, the story demands that the setting for a novel is thousands of miles away.
Relics was set in London, a city I know pretty well. For The Folded Land, I knew that I wanted a larger, more epic landscape. It needed to be somewhere away from that first novel for several reasons (which I can’t go into for risk of spoilers). And those who’ve read Relics will know that some of the characters end up in the USA. As I was thinking more about The Folded Land, the USA seemed the perfect setting.
Even though I’ve been to the USA a dozen times, I was faced with very obvious problems whilst writing the book, the very least of which was ‘sidewalk’ instead of ‘pavement’! I tried to help myself as much as possible by placing certain important scenes in places similar to those I’ve been before, but in many cases it was time to research. Research is a writer’s friend.
I spent a lot of time on Google images, looking around towns and rural locations which I thought approximated the places I wanted to write about (which are partly made-up, partly real). I delved into memories of a holiday I took with my family on Cape Cod. I looked at maps, zooming in and looking at the landscape and natural features. I’m certain I’ve got a lot wrong, but hopefully I’ve got enough right to beg some forgiveness for that.
When it came to the Folded Land itself (and I won’t say much about that place because I don’t want to spoil anything about the novel), I used a lot of what I knew from my love of the countryside and wild mountains.
I once wrote a book set in New Orleans (The Map of Moments, with my great friend Christopher Golden), and we had a lovely email from a resident of that city saying how true we’d been to NO, and commenting on how much time we must have spent there. Chris has been there once, a while back. I’ve never visited.
Research is a writer’s friend!
I love writing, reading, triathlon, real ale, chocolate, good movies, occasional bad movies, and cake.
I was born in London in 1969, lived in Devon until I was eight, and the next twenty years were spent in Newport. My wife Tracey and I then did a Good Thing and moved back to the country, and we now live in the little village of Goytre in Monmouthshire with our kids Ellie and Daniel. And our dog, Blu, who is the size of a donkey.
I love the countryside … I do a lot of running and cycling, and live in the best part of the world for that.
I’ve had loads of books published in the UK, USA, and around the world, including novels, novellas, and collections. I write horror, fantasy, and now thrillers, and I’ve been writing as a living for over 8 years. I’ve won quite a few awards for my original fiction, and I’ve also written tie-in projects for Star Wars, Alien, Hellboy, The Cabin in the Woods, and 30 Days of Night.
A movie’s just been made of my short story Pay the Ghost, starring Nicolas Cage and Sarah Wayne Callies. There are other projects in development, too.
I’d love to hear from you! Website: http://www.timlebbon.net Twitter: @timlebbon
Research is definitely key. I’ve seen criticisms of books on GR and Amazon before now that make specific reference to things such as a building being on the wrong street! I’m a little bit more forgiving tbh – you can’t visit everywhere after all (even if it would be nice to do so) – thank goodness for Google Maps.
Wow, seriously? I can kind of understand nitpickiness when it comes MAJOR errors related to locations and famous landmarks, but most of the time I just assume most random addresses/buildings mentioned in stories are made-up, lol. I’m definitely more forgiving of those things as well 😀
I’ve heard many authors talk about using Google maps to research far away places, and it seems like a great idea if you can’t actually visit the place. Also, very cool that Lebbon has had a movie made of a short story😁
Thanks Tammy! Also got another movie out this year, The Silence. And yes, Google Maps is really useful.
I thought so too, Tammy. I think I’ve even heard of the movie, but never knew it was based on your work, Tim 🙂
Google maps as research does make sense
Ah, the convenience of technology these days 🙂
Fun story about New Orleans! Research is key, and I’ve often wondered how expensive it gets for authors (not the biggies but those struggling to write full time) to take research trips. Thank goodness for Google images I guess, and the internet in general.
Being able to travel as an author for book research is definitely a luxury, and most of the time it’s probably difficult to justify the expense. Yes, thank goodness for tools like Google Earth and social media. I see authors on twitter reaching out to their international followers all the time, where they just ask their research questions about a place, and see if there’s anyone local to the area who knows the answer 🙂
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