It Is Better to Use Google Earth Hopefully Than Arrive

Aliya Whiteley on wheth­er a writer needs to be there or just look it up on Google Earth:

I know that place. Two of my rel­at­ives have held wed­ding recep­tions in that hotel. The beach is indeed stun­ning, and very often empty. Although the names have been changed, every detail is exact. And I sup­pose this stuff is not secret, but it is sur­pris­ing to find such a small corner of the UK depic­ted so accur­ately. I won­der why she changed the name of the place. I thought — she must live around there. And then I thought, hey, she’s a great writer, I’m sure she could have researched it and done it justice. Can you cap­ture a place so exactly if you vis­it it only once and then Google Earth it a bit?

My cur­rent nov­el is set in St Petersburg. It feels like the height of cheeki­ness to pub­lish a book about a place that I’ve nev­er been to. I’m learn­ing Russian, which is a start when writ­ing a Russian story, but I’m aware that a trip to St Petersburg is required, if only for peace of mind.

Another book of mine (gosh, there do seem to be lots of them) fea­tured sev­er­al scenes in the Bavaria National Forest. Dutifully, I went there, only to find the place was exactly as I had ima­gined it. Bloody typ­ic­al.


Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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