I admit to having cheated for my first book. Not only did I set it in my beloved home of Massachusetts, but I used a lot of places I knew well. When Maeve and Nick discussed making their relationship official, it was by the newsstand at Harvard Square that I always passed on my way to my favorite pizza place. I had all study sessions take place in the Mugar Library, where I went frequetntly during my years at Boston University Academy. I even had her visit Todd Pond Road in Lincoln, where one of my favorite houses that I ever lived in was.
But when it came to choosing the house for the Byrne family, I absolutely was inspired by the house that my cousins lived in while in Cambridge. So when I had to describe things, I pictured the rooms in that house.
On our way back from Cedar City, I mentioned to Katey that I finally realized I had a major problem with my current work in progress: I didn’t know what Bryne’s bedroom looked like. She laughed at that, but I’m absolutely serious. To this day, I can tell you what kind of pens Aislin has on her desk and why she doesn’t have a lamp next to her computer. I know what drawer she keeps her pajamas in. I know the layout of the kitchen. For another book I wrote, I chose a specific house because of its location, its affordability, AND its balcony off of the bedroom on the right side of the house.
So, this last weekend, I mentioned this dilemma on Facebook and that all I knew about the Driscoll house is that it’s within walking distance of the Green Line on the MBTA. I vaguely knew that she would meet Grace at the Cleveland Circle terminus in one scene because it was between their two houses. A friend gave me her address in that area so I could start looking at real estate.
Several hours of virtual tours and house-hunting later, Mr. and Mrs. Driscoll put a down payment on the imaginary version of a two-story house on Montcalm Avenue in Brighton. I know the layout of the house and what each bedroom overlooks. It doesn’t have much in the way of a yard, which is appropriate to one major thing about characterization. It’s also near St. Elizabeth Hospital, so that answers where Mrs. Driscoll works as a nurse. And yes, you can get to the Green Line from there.
Now, I just have to start a Pinterest board for Bryne’s bedroom.