Google Earth is a fantastic tool for writers. I used it last week to confirm a location I had in mind for a scene in my latest book – the sequel to crime thriller, Boyle’s Law. It’s a place in Glasgow I know pretty well, but as I haven’t been to that particular spot for several years, I thought I’d better make sure it was as I remembered.
The location turned out to be perfect. I was even able to mark out the routes used by the various characters. Not that I’ll be dumping that info into the book. It’s a thriller after all, not a sat-nav litany. But it does make me feel all warm and gooey inside knowing that my travel times are accurate, and that my locations are true enough for people to get a real sense of place from them. (It gave me a kick when an Amazon reviewer who lived near them said that the inclusion of Templeton Woods in Each New Morn added to their enjoyment of the book.)
Great though it is, I’m not sure that virtual scouting would ever give me enough information to make up for never having actually visited a place. It might show you the environs of the Tennents Lager factory on Duke Street in Glasgow, but unless you’ve been there you won’t know about the burnt-lentil-soup smell that occasionally drifts over the Necropolis. However as a virtual aide-memoire, Google Earth is hard to beat.