Traveling Through Books
By Mary Emma Allen
I've always been
fascinated with actual places found in novels and often use this
information as a guide for my traveling around the country. I keep an
atlas beside my reading chair and pull it out to see where the stories
are set and where characters might live and travel.
Sometimes I've visited
the area of the country in my travels beforehand, so can readily
visualize the scenes the author describes. Even so, I'll pull out my
atlas to refresh my memory.
Mystery in Montana
A fishing mystery set in
Montana had me constantly searching the atlas as the characters moved
around the southern part of that state. I had traveled through some of
that area, but not all of it. However, I could visualize many of the
scenes from my memory of the countryside.
It also was interesting
to head out from Bridger with the characters to places along the Madison
River, towns like Ennis, Jeffers and Madison Dam. Some of the action
occurred in lakes in that area.
Children's Story in
A children's story
placed in Lawrence, Kansas caused me look up the names of nearby towns
mentioned. This could be a wonderful geography lesson for kids and an
activity to help them learn about that state. This story was unusual
because it alternated between the present and past in that area, then
tied it all together at the end.
The historical story
also followed various rivers as the characters traveled by riverboat, on
foot, by barge, and in wagons to Kentucky and back where they rescued
New England Mysteries
A New Hampshire mystery,
although set in a fictionalized town, mentioned surrounding landmarks
and the main activities of the area.
Another mystery with a
Maine setting mentioned towns that I'd traveled through. So, even though
the characters were fiction, I could visualize their activities in these
A series of Oregon
mysteries have made me more familiar with that area for the author uses
actual places for her scenes. The main character lives in Eugene, but
some of the mysteries take place in the wilderness areas further east.
Since I write for a
weekly newspaper in McKenzie Bridge, Oregon, these books are
particularly interesting. I've gleaned more information about the area,
and towns like Vida, McKenzie Bridge, Sisters, and Blue River as the
mysteries unfold. My nephew and his family also own a vacation home in
Bend, another location for one of the stories.
mysteries for children and adults have long fascinated me. Many are set
in actual places throughout the United States. I grew up in the Hudson
River Valley of New York State and found some of her mysteries set
Ms. Whitney also placed
one of her stories in Sedona, AZ and the place captured my interest from
her descriptions. Then after my husband and I visited Sedona and its red
rocks, I had to re-read the book and see the settings more vividly.
What areas of the
country have you visited first through books before traveling there? Are
there others that become more real because you have been to the part of
the country where they are set? Combining arm chair traveling and actual
traveling can enhance your aura of place.
(c)2012Mary Emma Allen
(Mary Emma Allen writes
from her NH woodland home and while traveling locally and to more
distant places. Her most recent children's book has been compiled from
research done on the life and activities of her great great uncle,
William "Buffalo Bill" Mathewson. For more information, e-mail her at: