Since the story begins in the mountains above San Bernardino, CA, I have taken a number of trips to the towns in that area to gather both a feeling of connectedness and immersion into life in these mountains as this is where my protagonist, Skye Winter lives. The mountains are isolated and an unusual place for a young woman to want to live. She works however , as a college instructor, in a much more populated area, escaping into the theatrical area of fantasy for a living.
Other characters live or work in Orange County, a place where I have not only lived, but still frequently spend time in. A major love interest of Skye, Jake, while completing his doctorate in archaeology , takes her on a trip to experience petroglyphs. To prepare for this I have booked a hotel in Ridgecrest and a tour on the China Lake Naval base to see what I will describe for the characters, myself.
Of course some of this adventure takes place on another dimension, so you will have to take my word for it that they are there, LOL. However in the next book in the trilogy, Jake must go on a dig to South America. To that end in 2014- I will travel to Ecuador, where family lives, prompting a great excuse for a visit.
Making the setting real for me involves gathering as much first-hand knowledge as I can. Filling in blank spots will result in online Internet fact/picture hunting. It’s incredibly exciting to actually go to the places I am writing about when I can. I want as much accuracy as possible. That way when others read about these locations who have also been there, the story will feel that much more real to them.
Leaving my mind open to curiosity also attracts energy from the universe which in turn makes things happen. But that’s another story.