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Thanks Emma. Wish I'd read this 10 years ago. My novel Poison Bay is set in a real place: Fiordland National Park in a remote corner of the south island of New Zealand. There is even a real Poison Bay. I did extensive research about the landscape, topography, etc (including a research trip, lots of interviews, and a 4-day trek). I then got tied in knots trying to navigate my lost-and-threatened hikers through a route that would take the right number of days to reach this mountain pass or that river or lake. Drove me bonkers. Nearly lost the will to live (or at least the will to keep writing!). The day I realised I could Make Stuff Up was so liberating for me! The story matters more than the map. The final result has a mix of real and fictional locations. I got my hapless characters into the wilderness via tracks that really do exist. I brought them (eventually) to a bay that really does exist, but I played with its topography just a little, since only .000000001% of the world's population has ever been there. I had them stymied by a too-high mountain that really does exist. And then I took them back towards a lake that really does exist, via several valleys and mountain passes that do NOT exist, but are similar to many others in that park. I used the Auckland street directory to choose authentic-sounding names for my fictional mountains and passes and rivers. I'm hoping that any of my readers intimate with the national park will enjoy the in-joke (which I allude to in my acknowledgments). No one else seems to have noticed a thing. :-) Emboldened, I am now writing a sequel set on a fictional island on the Great Barrier Reef... ;-)
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Jul 7, 2015