No Time for Surprises, part of a series called the No Brides Club featuring heroines who’ve sworn off romance (Of course we all know how that works out…), is set in New York City, a place that is packed with fascinating nooks, crannies, parks, museums and other interesting places.
I grew up in a suburb of New York City and fell in love with Manhattan on various trips into the city when I was growing up. However, I moved to North Carolina some 40 years ago and have only been back for brief visits since. I feel I have a good grasp of the general geography, atmosphere, and culture, but there are a lot of things that have changed, too.
I considered making a quick scouting trip to the city, but time, budget, and circumstances precluded it. I’ve done this in the past, visiting cities that would form the settings for my books. I want the big picture layout, but I also always try to find the telling details, the small bits of scenery, characters, objects, landmarks, etc. that convey the atmosphere or feel of a place.
I turned to the Internet for help and it’s amazing what you can get.
I knew, more or less, where I want both my heroine and hero to live, and I didn’t want to be very specific about it, but I needed to be sure the general locations were feasible, so I turned to Google. I started with the maps but then did the satellite thing and zoomed in to get a better look. Finally I got right down to the street level to check out buildings. I picked out addresses for my characters though I don’t give actual numbers in the story. My heroine lives on the sixth floor of an apartment block on the west side, while my hero has a townhouse in Brooklyn.
Then there were the places they visited in the course of the story. They took a bike trip along the Shore Park Bike trail in Brooklyn. I’ve never been on it but it was an important event in the story so I wanted to get the details right. This YouTube videos gave me a good idea of the pavement, the surroundings, the crowds, the sounds, the obstacles and who was using the path.
Similarly when my characters took a walk on the High Line, a park that didn’t even exist when I lived there, I found an abundance of pictures and videos of people walking the park. This is a bit shaky and not always the best quality, but it gives a good feel for what it’s like to walk the park:
And then my characters visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I found this, which includes pictures from the Egyptian and Roman areas that intrigued them: