Traveling for work

Nahuel HuapiOne of the things for which I was lauded when I wrote the Borderland Trilogy (link) was the authentic flavor of the cities in which the books take place: Ciudad Juárez for The Dead Women of Juárez (link) and Tequila Sunset (link), and Nuevo Laredo for Missing (link).  This is due largely to the fact that I’ve been to these places multiple times, and know the areas well.  Granted, my knowledge of these things is some twenty years out of date, as I don’t recommend anyone go there while the drug war rages, but the fundamental nature of cities and towns generally does not change in a single generation.

Since the Borderland Trilogy, I’ve had to rely on less extensive experience for locations and, in at least one case, I have no firsthand history with the place at all.  See if you can spot which one of the Camaro books (link) features that locale.

As I move ahead with new books in new places, I’ve taken to travel.  Early next year I’m headed off to Montana.  Later in 2019 I’m going to Argentina.  In both cases I’m going to take the opportunity to work in solitude for a week or more — I’m thinking about a whole month in Argentina, given the low cost involved — but the positive secondary effect is taking lots of time to walk/drive around and see people, places and things I can incorporate into my books.

If you can travel as a writer, absolutely do it.  Depending on your genre, you can go to the exact spots, or you can visit some close facsimile.  And even if you don’t do any direct research in your travels, simply pay attention to what makes a location unique.  You’ll find a use for this experience someday, I guarantee it.