So today I am in Billings, Montana. That’s about 1,500 miles from Phoenix, and I’ve driven here in three days. Today I’m researching my next novel, The Porcupine of Truth, by sitting at a coffee shop, Off the Leaf, where two important scenes take place. I’ll also head over to the zoo, to confirm what I recall from my first visit, three years ago: that the Billings Zoo has no animals.
I also found a place for my protagonist’s estranged, dying, alcoholic father to live:
Tomorrow morning, my friend Debbie and I will head off on a great adventure. More research for the novel. How great is my life?
See, my characters take a journey in this book. It leads them from Billings, through Wyoming and Utah and Nevada, and it culminates in California. Having never driven that route, I will drive the same route with Debbie.
Along the way, my characters have a bunch of adventures. What are they, you ask? I can’t tell you. What I can tell you, however, is that we’ll be stopping at a trailer park, a foundry, a temple, a drive-thru church, a casino, a Cathedral, and a dog park. I’m also staying very open to whatever happens to us on this journey. Since the journey has a spiritual components for my characters, I feel like it is important to stay open to whatever messages the universe sends me/us during this trip.
What else? We’re couchsurfing! I have never done this before, and neither has Debbie. We’ve set things up with some very nice-sounding people along the way, and we will stay with them. What an opportunity to get to know total strangers! I’m so looking forward to getting to know who they are, and whether they may play a role in the novel. My characters will couchsurf their way across the country too, so we’ll see what that’s like.
What can I say? I’m pumped. Just from being in Billings this morning, I’ve gotten a richer sense of the setting than I had from my memory. I lived here for a year three years ago, and memories fade. Nothing like experiencing the real thing!