Researching Settings in the Desert
What began as research on a new character turned into an all day binge researching session on a somewhat major setting in the story. This setting has only been referred to by other characters, but the reader has not been there yet.
I guess this place is different from other settings in the story because it is based on a real location in the real world, while everywhere else is made up.
I spent the day on Google Earth and the Internet, lost somewhere in the Nevada wilderness. I was looking into the Nevada National Security Site (N2S2). There's a huge facility out there and this was one of the main locations where they tested nuclear weapons back in the '60s. I really wanted to keep true to what is actually out there because I think it makes for a stronger story. Anyone can conjure up a secret lair in the heart of an active volcano. But if that lair were built on the foundation (both literal and figurative), of an actual mountain used to store nuclear waste, it makes for a much more compelling setting, in my humble opinion.
I've been marking up Google Earth with various pushpins and paths, trying to put together not just a base of operations, but a very large section of map that will be used both now and it future stories in this particular series. There's a lot of ground to cover and I almost wish Google Earth had more friendly tools for doodling all over their maps. A desert wilderness in Nevada might appear flat in boring. But when you add the nuclear mountain repository, research facilities, test sites, airfields, army bases, Area 51, and a closed town built specifically to house the government employees and their families, you end up with a story in and of itself.