I’ve moved a lot. In the past six or seven years, I’ve live in VA Beach, Chicago, NYC, and now Austin. When they say a writer should write what they know, they’re often referring to the small details. It’s easier to get those right when you’ve experienced them yourself.
I started Super when I was still living in NYC. Much of the landmarks described in the book were ones I saw on a daily basis. Some of my own experiences were weaved into the storyline.
But I’d only completed about a quarter of Super in New York. I had to finish it here in Austin. That was hard. It was important to keep it as real as possible but without walking the streets every day you forget the little things. I had to get back in the right frame of mind to write.
I used Google Maps to visit old neighborhoods. You can zoom in close enough to see buildings and streets. You can also go to street view, which is a way to see images of the actual places as if you were standing on the street.
Of course there were some things that I had to make work to go with the story. But those were more artistic license than a result of not being close to the location of the story anymore. At one point someone asked me if my character would make the move to Austin with me. I doubt that. The character is kind of tied to the city and that’s where she belongs.