Google Maps to the Rescue
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This is the map of Tanner and Marlena's journey across the English and Scottish countryside in my January release, The Vanishing Viscountess. Click on the pointers to see some of the details of the trip.
When I first conceived the story for The Vanishing Viscountess, I didn't think about the challenges of doing a Road Story. All of a sudden I had to research a dozen locations instead of one or two! What was I thinking? I needed HELP.
First of all, I needed a route for my characters to travel. Our very own Noodler, Delle Jacobs, saved me there by giving me the coaching routes of the time period. After that it was Google Maps to the rescue!
How did Google Maps help?
1. By showing the route.
By using the Get Directions feature, I plugged in Delle's information, and I could literally see on the Google map how my characters would travel across the country.
2. By providing the distance between places.
The Get Directions feature also provided the distance between points on the map. I needed to set a realistic pace for my characters, to make sure that each day they traveled a realistic distance for Regency times.
3. By giving names of towns, villages, rivers, streams, street names, and so on.
When I knew my distances, I also discovered the likely places my characters would stop for the night. Then I could use other search engines (like my favorite one, Answers.com) to research those places.
4. By showing me details I didn't know.
Like where bridges were, turns in the road, things like that. The satellite feature was helpful because it showed the actual terrain. I could even zoom in on buildings, which would be useful if you write contemporary fiction.
After I finished The Vanishing Viscountess and started talking and blogging about using Google Maps, I learned of a new Google feature in Google Earth that is ideal for historical research. I use this feature all the time now.
Google Earth is free for download here
On the left, under the menu “layer,” set view on “core.” Under core, click on Gallery. Under Gallery, click on Rumsey Historical Maps and then Map Finder. The maps I use are the 1790 maps of the UK and the 1843 map of London, but there are special maps all over the world. The cool thing is, the historical maps overlay the Google Earth map and the Google Map functions still work. I can plot distances my characters need to travel in the UK and London and I am looking at the area as it would have in that historical time period.
My map of Tanner and Marlena’s trip even shows up on Google Earth and on the historical map overlaying it.
The Vanishing Viscountess is still available on eHarlequin (at 40% off) and at Amazon.com.
Do you use maps, Google or otherwise, to help you with your research?