Monday, December 16, 2013

Chicago vs London: The Art of Research

Mystic Blue-Chicago
Perhaps the most fun a writer can experience remains only a click away. With the Internet today, there are no limits to an author's passport. Researching people, places and things to add to my new novel, Free Runner, turned into a man-hunt. "Who or what will I uncover today?" My past experience in the classroom also became another source for my research. World History and Geography trumped all other subjects I taught while Great Britain became my most anticipated unit. We also explored Australia, Spain, Italy, France and Greece along with each country's unique foods, quirky customs and weird traditions.OK, I admit, I transformed into a world traveler (in the classroom) and a research junkie. I hosted classroom parties, dressing up in native clothing and sampling exotic foods. I even planned art projects around each country.

It's no surprise that England made the top of my list when prepping for places to put on display in my novel. No, I've never stepped foot in England, Ireland or Scotland. I do have ancestral roots in Ireland. My grandmother was Irish--hence the red hair. I begged my parents in high school to let me be a foreign exchange student to London. That never happened.

I will start with one of the first places mentioned in my novel: the National Gallery. This free museum is located right next to Trafalgar Square in London. The main character's dad lands a photography dream job, working for the Gallery. My first instinct led me to research this place to see if they displayed anything other than famous paintings like van Gogh's Sunflowers or Rembrandt's self portrait. BINGO. Last December 2012 the National Gallery hosted their first ever photography exhibit.This plausible idea for my new novel and the merging of the Gallery's priceless art with photography became the driving force behind Free Runner. The reader will be taken to many more landmarks throughout London: St. Paul's Cathedral, the London Eye and Her Majesty's Theater.

My obsession with all things Chicago (and the internet) helped navigate me around a city--London--I have yet to visit. Chicago boasts many museums as well as theaters: Chicago Opera House, Chicago Theater, and the Orpheum where I saw the Phantom of the Opera years ago. The city even has its own famous Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. Here's a little unknown fact: the Richard H. Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass Museum and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows (located next to each other) are tucked inside Navy Pier toward the back and admission is free. Tiffany glass, anyone? I've enjoyed Chicago's view from the John Hancock building and from the upper deck of the Mystic Blue, floating in Lake Michigan right after a storm. The lightning show over the skyline was worth the price of admission.

If you're still not convinced the Windy City is similar to London, think chilly temps and drizzle and join me for a monumental ride of action and adventure, exploring the streets of London, in my debut novel Free Runner.

#amwriting #writetip #debut #novel #freerunning #parkour #London #Chicago

Up next on my blog--researching the surfing scene and the world of pakour/free running.

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