Wednesday, March 13, 2013

When Authors Write About Your Neighborhood

December 6, 2011

Reading Beth's post on Robyn Carr reminded me of the time I tried to get my mom to read the Virgin River Series based on the setting. My entire family is from Humboldt County, California. I was born in Eureka and my parents were born and raised in the "quaint, Victorian village" known as Ferndale. If you've ever been to Legoland, California, Ferndale is recreated in Miniland. Several major motion pictures have also been filmed there including The Majestic with Jim Carrey. I moved away from Humboldt County when I was five (my dad couldn't handle the weather any longer), but needless to say, I have spent a lot of time there.

I gave the Virgin River series to my mother, thinking she would enjoy them. Well, she did, but she kept getting caught up in the small details. When you read about a place you know intimately, any error is going to throw you out of the story. My mom called me constantly while she was reading the books. "You can't get from X to Y in under an hour. It would take at least 2 hours." And only you would know that, Mom. Thanks for the call...

I have to admit that even I was annoyed when in one of Tess Gerritsen's early Harlequin Intrigues, she put a K-Mart in Garberville, a town so small there's really only one road going through it. Yep, that K-Mart is at least an hour away in Eureka.

Since we live five minutes from Zamperini Field, Art tried to read the big bestseller, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Unfortunately, he couldn't get past the "forests of Torrance" reference in the first chapter. Sorry, Laura, there are no forests here -- the occasional tree, yes, forests, no.

But sometimes you read books set in your neighborhood because the author gets it right. I love reading Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware books set in West L.A. I lived in that area when I was at UCLA and it's always fun to revisit the locale.

Can you live with the author getting your neighborhood wrong or does it drive you crazy?

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