Because both my last series and its spin-off series take place in my native Boston, I had a good feel for the area. However, considering how much the city has changed and how long ago I lived there *cough—the seventies—cough*, I felt a research trip was in order.
I set Strange Neighbors(title of the first series and the first book in that series) in my old neighborhood, the Back Bay. It’s made up of two hundred year old brownstones, and I couldn’t help being awed all over again by their uniqueness and old-world beauty.
It was early June when I visited. The flowering trees that line the brick sidewalks were blooming, and the college students had gone home for the summer. You could almost feel the city breathe a sigh of relief. There was no need to worry about what kind of havoc the BU frats on one side of Beacon Street and the MIT frats on the other side might get up to. Back when I lived there, the students were fond of stopping Volkswagon beetles, picking them up and turning them around on the one-way street—or setting them on the sidewalk. And that’s if they weren’t having toilet paper fights with each other. *sigh* Perhaps that isn’t the case today. I imagine they’ve found better ways to entertain themselves…probably with video games and ipads.
Last year I visited again to research my new series Flirting with Fangs.
Book 1 is Flirting Under a Full Moon and this time I walked around Beacon Hill. It’s an affluent area of old Federal-style buildings with the Boston Common right across the street. I had it in my head that I’d set my bar on Charles Street, which is the major thoroughfare. To my surprise, there was an actual neighborhood bar in the same place I’d imagined it.
I was with my family that time, and even before we made it to the door we were stopped and my daughter was carded. We joked about why he wasn’t carding the rest of us, but Bostonians aren’t known for lying politely to make you feel better. He just laughed in our faces and opened the door for us.
It was a tiny hole-in-the-wall place, not as upscale as I’d made it in my mind. That’s okay. That’s what imagination is for. Because it was packed that Saturday afternoon and there was nowhere to sit, we didn’t bother to stay and order. The bouncer laughed again when we left right away and went to the cupcake place next door. I guess tourists’ expectations are hilarious to the locals. Hey, you’ve got to get your humor where you can find it.
And, oh yeah…I couldn’t help addressing the age-old Boston-New York rivalry too. Yankees vs. Red Sox. Patriots vs. Jets…etc. Sports rivalries go waaaay back and spill over to other issues between these two cities. New York was set up in grids with the streets of Manhattan numbered and lettered for your directional convenience. i.e. West 44th street. Whereas in Boston—the older city—they just paved the cow paths.
Here’s an in-your-face example of Boston humor.
The bar in my book is called Boston Uncommon and it caters to the local paranormal population. Most people don’t know that the city is teeming with paranormals, but Anthony Cross does. He’s a vampire and has made it his life’s mission to decrease hostilities between the supernatural factions simply by providing them a safe place to socialize and get to know each other better.
His first victory is making a friend on the Boston Police force—which is largely made up of werewolves. Nick Wolfensen refers a few others, and before they know it, Anthony’s theory is tested. Readers will be introduced to other supernaturals too—brownies, shapeshifters, wizards and witches. All of whom have their suspicions about the others.
And who keeps watch over all this potential mayhem? Mother Nature. She’s the head honcho. The Grand Poobah. The supreme ruler of the Supernatural Council, and when it comes to anyone disobeying her rules, she’s the judge and jury. What’s rule number one? Never reveal your paranormal identity.
As soon as Anthony, Nick, and all the regulars are on her radar, they have more to worry about than each other!