During my trip down Interstate 81 last weekend, I was able to travel through a chunk of where Brown River Blues is set. In 2004, I had a (slightly) ill-fated visit to the area I would later overlay my Wessex County when I visited some people from a church I once attended. At the time, I had no idea I would set a novel there that wasn’t the one that shall not see the light of day that is sorta the prequel to Brown River Blues.
I’ve passed through the area twice since then on my way to Tennessee, but I have not yet gone back to triple-checking the scenery and the feel. I need to do that. I’ve had years of abortive efforts; although I take many, many meaningless road trips, I can’t justify such a large jaunt without any person or event being a destination. Sure, getting the refresher counts as a reason, but it seems forced.
Despite that, I’ve had the itinerary planned out for ages: Visit on a weekday, drive by Emory & Henry College and Glade Spring, do some scouting in Abingdon, visit Damascus the next morning and take a circuitous trip back to Central Virginia via U.S. 58 and Virginia 40. I think the road to Damascus part is the sticking point. I could easily pop off 81 and hit the refresher portion while traveling through for one reason or another. I don’t necessarily need to get out of the car. The only point of heading down 58 would be to track through where I had car trouble. It doesn’t have allure.
Yeah, and so has countless other people.
But I digress.
There are some real locations and events incorporated into the narrative, which required some research to keep that suspension of disbelief, like an amazing press release from Virginia State Police that inspired a scene of a speech given on a packed stoop because of a freak rainstorm. That was also inspired by a press conference given on a packed stoop because of a freak rainstorm.
Another example is the distance between Wytheville and Wessex County’s Fielding Administration Building.
I was able to check off that issue on my way home last week. I got between the two in 38 minutes in moderate traffic. One of my characters, staying slightly south of 80 in moderate traffic, definitely could make it in 35.
That’s all I needed to know.