I'm working on my new book and have encountered an interesting issue. My previous books were set in two fantasy worlds, Anywhere USA, and a fictional school. This book is set in the not-too distant future. It starts in New Jersey and then moves to Ohio.
The issue is (which I guess isn't REALLY an issue but more of an interesting note) that setting it in a place that actually exists, with real geography (although slightly altered due to the plot) feels strange. It's odd writing about roads I drive on every day. The thing is, the book HAD to be set in America. I figured why fictionalize it when I can use the real place I know, the real roads and the real buildings? The thing is, writing about places you know brings on this weird meta-feeling, like you really SHOULDN'T be doing it because it feels like cheating almost. Then again, Stephen King sets everything in Maine which he knows well. I guess, if done right, it's just as fictional to those who don't know the area as anything I can come up with, right?
Of course, once you start, it's hard to break free from that reality. As the characters go to Ohio, so goes the geography. I simply don't know Ohio well, but it is essential for the characters to take a longish car trip. I go to OH a couple of times a year to visit my wife's family, so I'm aware of the basic geography. I know what the country looks like and I know how people are. I DON'T really know the roads like I do here.
As the book progresses, I'm finding I need to make stuff up a little bit more. I can look at a map, but I'm still kind of faking my way through it. At first I was kind of anal about getting it right, but I'm realizing it doesn't really matter all that much. The main action once they get to Ohio is in a warehouse. Do I need to find a REAL warehouse to set it in? I don't THINK so...maybe it was just built in the last few years...anyway, I'm finding that I prefer making up the geography to using reality. In a way, it's actually easier to just make it up. Still, it's an interesting challenge.
How have you dealt with this?