Teresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today, she doesn't carry a rod like her idol, but she hot rods. Combining her love of reading mysteries and writing professional articles led to writing short fiction and a novel. Learn more about her and her writing at her website.
Why is research important to location?
I love it when I start a new mystery. This usually means a road trip where the story takes place to research the setting.
When researching Corked for Murder” in Virginia is for Mysteries, I toured Williamsburg Winery and took pictures of oak barrels, machinery, and asked lots of questions. But as the wine flowed so did my ideas when a bridal party entered the tasting room. One woman in the party was inebriated and inspired a drunken bridesmaid that "corked" the murderous plot in my story.
On another trip, I visited the historic Cavalier on the Hill hotel in Virginia Beach to research “Guide to Murder.”
When I arrived, I noticed a hotel tour guide. This inspired me to write a murder about a tour. I then explored the hotel to determine the murder location. I also learned that doorways had lower heights during the 1930’s and people were not very tall. A great tip for creating characters.
But what should authors do when they cannot visit a location?
Start with a Google map. Learn the area’s main corridors and population. Research the general history, culture, seasonal changes and weather conditions. Check out historical societies and museums to expand your knowledge. You’ll be surprised what you learn before you start writing your story. When writing the play “Murder on the Lafayette,” I based it on two brothers who grew up on the Lafayette River in Norfolk. During my research, I learned the river was originally named Tanner’s Creek so I gave the brothers the last name Tanner and viewed maps of the river in the 1800’s.
Since research is vital for an accurate setting, take time to obtain the knowledge you need for your readers. The more you know, the more comfortable you’ll be when writing about different locations.
Virginia is for Mysteries
Virginia may be for lovers, but to nineteen authors, Virginia is for Mysteries: Volume II. The anthology of nineteen short stories, set in and around the Commonwealth, features Virginia landmarks and locations such as Virginia Wine Country, the Poe Museum, Luray Caverns, Colonial Williamsburg, the Great Dismal Swamp, Nimrod Hall, the Barter Theater, and Mill Mountain, to name a few.
The stories transport readers across the diverse backdrop of the Old Dominion to a unique and deadly landscape, filled with killers, crooks, and criminal.