I love to travel. So last week I decided to take a day trip with a friend of mine to Erie, PA, since it’s only about two hours away from where I live.
Erie (as I’m sure you know because you bought and devoured my book, The Blood Moon) is the setting for my Under the Moon series.
Why Erie, you ask?
Funny thing: When I was a teenager I thought it was stupid that people would set books in their hometowns. That, and I wanted to create a fictional town so that I didn’t get anything “wrong.”
You see, I knew what I did and didn’t relate to. I knew that at 15 I didn’t have a lot of experiences, so I wanted to stick with what I did know: living in a small town, less than an hour away from a mid-sized city.
That was the world I wanted to create for The Blood Moon (then titled The Lewis Brothers). However, once I got older and was really up to my elbows in edits, I found myself limited by the fictional small town I created.
In a small town, everyone knows everyone. Hiding their witchcraft would be a bigger challenge. In a small town, they didn’t necessarily have the luxury of public transportation, so they had to have a car.
These problems prompted me to change the setting from Sawens, the fictional town outside of Erie, to right in the city of Erie. That move especially paid off when I went to write The Full Moon last year.
Erie also has the gorgeous Presque Isle State Park right next to it, which created a place for the witches to battle some of their foes during the colder months when nobody is there, typically.
Since I went in October, when The Blood Moon starts, our first stop, Presque Isle, was basically empty. What I didn’t realize is that Presque Isle is basically beach town. I lost count of the number of beaches that lined the shores and I can only imagine how packed they are in the summer when the city wants to breathe some fresh air.
At one point, we wandered out onto one of the beaches and watched the waves. There was no one else around. I found myself saying, “Yeah, they could’ve fought some people here. Especially in October.” At least I got that right.
Next we went to Arlington Rd, where the Harpers live. The large Victorian house the boys live in with their aunt on Arlington doesn’t exist—obviously. But really, there aren’t any Victorian houses on that street. All the houses are really nice, but not the style I had described.
Also, that neighborhood certainly looks friendly, but nothing like I had envisioned in my mind whenever I wrote about the Harper house. I did, however, get something right. Around the corner, on Highview Boulevard, there is a small brown house that Holly lives in with her mother’s friend, Margaret. That exists!
After we left Arlington Rd, we went downtown. Overall, I was…underwhelmed. Downtown was certainly nice, despite the so-so weather, but it wasn’t the full-city feel I had envisioned when writing the books. The buildings were taller than I have in my hometown, but they weren’t exactly skyscrapers. Luckily, I hadn’t used that word in any of my books.
Besides that, everything was really interesting. I almost felt like I had stepped into the Under the Moon world and would see the characters around any corner.
We went to Gannon University, where something happens in The Full Moon that you’ll read about this February, and then went down to the pier to find dinner while we waited for the sun to fully set.
By time we got down to the pier, we had almost no dinner options (the place is probably very popular in the summer), so we ended up eating in the Sheraton where something else happens in The Full Moon (okay, okay, Kathy and Will have their first date there).
Afterwards, we intended to go to the top of the Bicentennial Tower, but it was locked, so we just ended up standing at the end of the pier where Will and Kathy’s first date gets interesting in The Full Moon.
The trip was great to see the world I had been writing in firsthand, even if I did get a few things “wrong.” I suppose that’s the beauty of fiction. You never get anything wrong.
In the future, I might just stick with what I know and base a series in a place that I live or know very well. It might work, it might not. We’ll see when I start that series. For now, I need to finish the Under the Moon series.