I’m a location predator, and I find out I’m on the prowl even when I don’t want to be on the prowl or don’t even know it — always observing and banking locations that may or may not be used later in one of the books.
For years before my first novel was published, my company promoted international tourism on behalf of four states: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and South Dakota. As part of my job, I accompanied foreign tour operators, travel agents, and journalists on familiarization trips throughout the region. This took me to ranches, museums, camps, ski resorts, rivers, mountains, and national parks. In a way, I was able to see the place I grew up in through foreign eyes, and I realized how unique and exotic it was. I started “banking” names and locations as we visited that I’d later use in novels, such as Yellowstone Park, Saddlestring, Wyoming (actually a post office on a guest ranch), Jackson Hole, the Rushmore KOA in the Black Hills. Although I may change the names or embellish the layout, I constantly use actual small communities and natural places as locales in my novels.
Thank to C.J. Box for contributing to Road Trips for Readers.