I have a confession.
Sometimes, when I write, I use a setting I haven’t visited yet.
Can you tell?
Don’t get me wrong. I do loads of research. I troll internet photos, read travel blogs, visit the website of the location. But it’s not the same as actually being there yourself, you know?
Well, when my book No Place Like Home released in December, I’d had all sorts of plans to go visit the Bass Pro shop at the Pyramid in Memphis, TN. Honestly? I’d wanted to go since the place opened because it sounded SO COOL!
But, it never happened despite us driving through Memphis a couple times a year over the last four years to visit family. We’d stop somewhere else or didn’t have the time needed to really experience the place. You understand, I’m sure.
So, I based the chapters in my book where my characters visit the Pyramid on research. And I did a fairly good job, I think, pairing past Bass Pro experiences at other locations and all my online reading, to give a fairly good idea of what it’s like.
But then, over Christmas break, we set up a date in Memphis to meet up with friends who had moved to Arkansas last year. And where did I recommend we meet? Can you guess?
If you guessed the Pyramid, you’re right. It wasn’t quite what I imagined, but it was still very neat in spite of the yucky rainy weather that weekend. The inside is laid out with paths through Cypress-looking trees all dripping with moss. Water features have ducks, fish, and even some alligators floating around down there. And then there are the stuffed animals–and I don’t mean teddy bears. Can you spy the real bear?
There are places to shop for all your outdoor needs, of course. As well as two restaurants and a motel, a bowling alley, and a place to learn about Ducks Unlimited. And that day they also had Santa Claus.
But near the middle was the part I really wanted to experience for myself. The elevator.
Why would an elevator be that exciting? Well, it’s the world’s tallest free-standing elevator. We’re talking 28 stories tall. And it’s glass, so you can look out and watch the world shrink below you. It takes you up to the top of the Pyramid where you can walk out onto an Observation deck. Out there, you get a great view of the Mississippi River and the bridge, several buildings in Downtown Memphis, and the parking lot. And it was COLD that day, but my kids thought it was great because they discovered they could run a couple steps and then slide on the glass floor. Nothing like giving their mama a heart-attack right before the holidays. And of course, I made my husband take a picture from up there. I’ll let you guess which one of us is more afraid of heights and which one was loving it. ;-)
It was a fun few hours, and I recommend stopping if you have the time. Get some yummy fudge, even.
And I’m so glad I got to experience an activity I had my characters doing, too.
Are you surprised authors sometimes write about locations they’ve never been? Have you suspected it all along? What do you think would make a fun location in a future novel?
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