From California to Montana and from the Bayou to the jungle I’ve set my GhostWalker novels in a variety of locations. Since I don’t do a great deal of travel anymore I research these locations in several ways. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to still go there myself such as with the Louisiana Bayou and San Francisco. Often I will send someone from my team, usually my daughter, to gather information first hand. I’ll research online, but it’s good to know what a certain area feels like on your skin, smells like or what it looks like during certain times of the day or certain seasons. I buy books about an area to learn about flora and fauna as well as the people, landscape, homes and legends. I may know people who live in that area and I’ll contact them to get their ideas, opinions and information. Videos and virtual reality can also give amazing aid.
I continue to expand the areas in which I set these stories. Recently, I’ve sent them to China and to Indonesia. I’ve been writing Team 4 stories recently so I’ve done a great deal of research in the bayous of Louisiana, China and Indonesia specifically.
Montana (Team One and Team Two)
Team Two is in the mountains of Montana. I love the wide open space of Montana and thought it would be a perfect place for one of my GhostWalker teams. And where better to place them than the beautiful mountains? Montana is the 4th largest state in the US and there are 2991 mountains with names in Montana.
When I was researching houses in Montana I found one that was completely self-sufficient. They used the wood from the logs in the forest on their property. They were totally off the grid. I loved how it was set up and had that in mind as I wrote.
California (Team Three)
Team 3 is based in San Francisco, California and have been together since childhood. They specialize in Urban Warfare. I live in Northern California and love the area so much. It is helpful that I’ve been to San Francisco so many times in my life. San Francisco is the 13th most populated city in the US. And I love that it’s near mountains, ocean, rivers and has such a diverse population.
More on San Francisco
The word bayou has its origins in the word "bayuk", which is the Louisiana French word for a small stream. The definition of a bayou is "a swampy arm or a slow moving outlet of a lake". A bayou is "a sluggish or stagnant creek, frequently flowing through swamp terrain. The term is used mainly when referring to areas in the delta region (the area near the mouth) of the Mississippi River. In comparison, a swamp is low-lying, marshy wetland, and is usually forested and seasonally flooded." The wildlife that can be found in the bayous of Louisiana is abundant. It is not uncommon to see alligators, raccoons, rats, crawfish, crabs or peeps. It is said that the insect and plant species of these areas could fill up a large phone book in and of themselves!
For more information visit:
On The Bayou
One of my favorite cities in the world, I go there as often as I can, which isn’t often enough for me. I love the people, the history, the atmosphere, the food! There’s so much to do that I always find something new each time I go there.
New Orleans is a beautiful and historically rich city located in Louisiana, on the Mississippi River, approximately 110 miles upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. The city was originally named Nouvelle Orleans in honor of Phillippe II, Duc d'Orleans, who was the regent of France under French King Louis XV.
New Orleans, also known as the crescent city (because of its shape), was founded in 1718 by France and is the only U.S. city where French was the predominant language for more than one hundred years. In fact, there are many unique characteristics to New Orleans. For instance, it is the American city occupied longest by enemy troops during the Civil War. Also it houses the oldest continuosly active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States, St. Louis Cathedral. The New Orleans Streetcar line is the oldest continuosly operating rail system in the world. And to top it off this city is known as the birthplace of jazz.
On top of the amazing history of New Orleans, this city is a great place to visit. With multiple festivals, including Mardi Gras, great Cajun food, and abundant attractions, New Orleans is definitely a city not to be missed!
For more information visit:
New OrleansCity of New Orleans
I have utilized Pearl Eco River tour to see the swamps in the Bayou on several occasions. I’ve learned a great deal through those tours, perhaps more that way than any other.
It’s important to me to see, hear and smell the environment first hand when I can. I was able to meet the people of the Bayou and get personal stories of the area.
Pearl Eco River Tours
Cottonmouth snakes, also known as water moccasins, are commonly found in the south and like to inhabit marshy areas in particular. They are the only poisonous water snake in North America. These highly venomous snakes are black in color and reach lengths from 3 ½ to 6 feet. Water moccasins are very aggressive and will defend their territory; they will even approach intruding human beings!
For more information visit:
Alligators are large reptiles that can be found in the southeastern United States and China. Unlike their cousin, the crocodile, alligators have blunt snouts and are relatively unaggressive. Between 1978 and 2003, there were only 2 alligator attacks in Louisiana, neither of which was fatal, and 13 fatal attacks in Florida. Typically alligators live between thirty five and fifty years and rarely grow larger than thirteen feet in length and six hundred pounds in weight. The largest alligator ever captures was caught in the early 1900's in Louisiana, and measured nineteen feet, two inches!
For further reading on alligators, please follow the links below:
A Comparison of Shark Attacks and Fatalities with the American Alligator
Finding information on Sumatra was much more challenging than I thought it would be. It took several days and many hours of research to get the information I needed for Toxic Game. Palembang is one of the larger cities, but beyond that there’s relatively little information. I found personal blogs, travel guides, travel blogs and some news and photos that helped give me an overall view of the area.
Not even 20% of the research ended up in the book, but I wanted people to feel they were really experiencing the area.
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