You’re writing along, making up a story, and the words are flowing—you don’t want to bring it all to a screeching halt so you can check your facts. You can do that later, in the editing phase. So you just make something up and keep going.
I had a lot of fun recently scoping out locations for Twiceborn Endgame, when it finally came time to check those facts. The Park Hyatt features in the story. I knew where it was, but I’d never been there, so one Sunday my very patient husband and I drove into the city on a factfinding mission.
This is the entry, which doesn’t look all that exciting, tucked into a little street right next to the ramps that feed onto the Harbour Bridge. You can see the hotel is not very tall.
The view is all on the other side of the building, and it’s spectacular. The hotel is designed so all the rooms have the view. Now I want to stay there! The blue waters of the harbour are laid out before you, and the Opera House is so close you could almost touch it. That’s the front of the hotel on the left.
It was kind of awkward and fun at the same time. We wandered in and I surreptitiously took photos of the foyer.
I’d set some of the action in a room on the sixth floor, but neither of us were sure how many floors there were until we got there. We just knew it was a low-rise hotel. I also needed to know if you needed a room keycard to operate the lift. I felt like an imposter as we snuck into the lift. We were going to look pretty stupid if we did need a card and we had to get straight out again. At the same time I felt like some kind of ninja spy, sneaking around doing surveillance. It was really fun.
I know, the life of an author is so exciting. I need to get out more.
As it turned out, we didn’t need a card, and there is no sixth floor, so we went up to the third floor and I had a little peek at the décor, so I could get the descriptions right. This little statue even made it into the book:
After that we drove to the airport to check out where the rich people board their private jets. My poor husband drives to the airport all the time for work, so it was hardly a thrill for him, but I got a good idea of the layout and how the action would have to go, so it was worth the trip.
Next step: set a book somewhere really exotic, and do a slightly more upmarket “research trip”. Might have to become a bestseller first, though, to be able to afford it!