Today, I have author Stacy Green here with us talking about writing about, and setting a novel, in a place she has never been to before – Las Vegas. Specifically the underground tunnels beneath Vegas.
Welcome to The Book Vixen Stacy!
My debut novel, Into The Dark, takes place in hot, sunny, Las Vegas. Well, most of it does. A few passages take us into the stinking storm drains below the city–a maze of tunnels where more than 200 homeless are estimated to live. And I admit, one of my favorite things about Into The Dark is the juxtaposition between the bright lights above the Strip and the virtual blackness below.
Great idea, right? One problem. This landlocked Iowa girl has never been to Las Vegas. The farthest West I’ve been is South Dakota, and I was only about ten. Since I’m a wife and mother first, I couldn’t hope on a plane and go location scouting.
So I did the next best thing (and a personal, nerdy hobby of mine): research.
I had no idea about the existence of the storm drains until I innocently Googled “Las Vegas tunnels” in the hopes of learning about some possible mob escape routes, some legends I could use in the opening scenes.
Instead I found out about the storm drains and the people living down there. There were pictures of elaborate camps set up, complete with makeshift showers and shelving units, stories of survival strategies the homeless use when the storm drains fill with water (and believe it or not, they do. People drown in the drains every year). Needless to say, I was shocked. Sheltered Iowa girl had never considered anything so sad coming from Vegas.
Reporter Matt O’Brien brought the reality of the storm drains to life in his book Beneath The Neon: Life and Death in the Las Vegas Tunnels. Matt spent months exploring the drains and getting to know the inhabitants, and the book chronicles his experiences. I was lucky enough to interview Matt for my blog, and he provided additional information about what it was like to walk in the pitch black world below Vegas. All that information was vital to writing the storm drains scenes in Into The Dark.
But most of the book takes place above ground, so I had to learn all about the city. Google maps were my closest friends. I found the perfect location for WestOne Bank and was able to figure out what local shops and streets I needed to mention to bring a sense of realism to the book. My heroine, Emilie, has a few scenes in her apartment, so I needed to find the perfect location. The real estate and apartment guides were essential. Most provided interior and exterior pictures, and it was easy to build scenes around those.
Ditto for the downtown Las Vegas command, the library, the Strip, and the Nevada Historical Society–all were easily accessible via their website.
But what about the sights and smells of the city? What about the madness of the Strip and the party-like atmosphere of the Fremont Street Experience?
Message boards, community groups, real estate forums. It’s so common it’s almost cliché, but you really can find anything on Google these days – you just have to be willing to spend some time at it. I read countless posts on what it was like to live in Las Vegas, where the safe areas were, the bad areas, what the summers were like, the best restaurants–you get the picture.
Finally, here’s my secret weapon: imagination. I know it’s hot in Nevada, I know there’s lots of desert, I know there’s a ton of people swarming around Las Vegas. The key was taking all that information and creating a world that felt completely real to the reader–and to myself. And in the end, isn’t that what fiction’s all about?
Thanks to my understanding hubby, I get to stay at home and play writer. Between my kindergartner’s busy life and taking care of the little ones at my in-home childcare, I stay pretty busy and love every minute of it.
I grew up watching crime shows with my dad and soap operas with my mom (R.I.P As The World Turns and Guiding Light), so it’s no surprise I’m a sucker for a good suspense novel with some romance thrown in. I’m fascinated by the workings of the criminal mind, and I have dedicated Thursday to exploring the dark crimes (sometimes creepy paranormal fun) that plague our society. My husband says I watch way too many true crime shows and shakes his head when I spout off my latest research on serial killers.
Don’t worry, my life isn’t all about the macabre. I love to garden – roses and lilies are my favorites – and I’m also learning to cook healthy after having reached my weight loss goal of 64 pounds. Of course, my family is the most important thing. My daughter is my pride and joy, and it’s amazing to watch her learn to read and cultivate her love of stories and characters.
Side note: The author has a charity raffle going on that I thought was worth mentioning. Here are the details:
The homeless living in the storm drains of Las Vegas played a vital part in INTO THE DARK, and I want to give back. From November 1st until February 28th, participants will have several options to enter the raffle, including donating to HELP of Southern Nevada. The grand prize will be a $100 donation from me in the winner’s name to the homeless shelter of their choice. Enter the INTO THE DARK Charity Raffle!
IT’S THE MOMENTS FROM OUR PAST THAT BIND US.
Branch Manager Emilie Davis is having a day like any other–until two masked men storm into WestOne Bank demanding cash. Her hopes of a quick end to her terror are dashed when she realizes one of the men has no interest in the bank’s money. Emilie is his prize, and he’s come to claim her.
When hostage negotiator Nathan Madigan and Las Vegas SWAT enter the bank on a rescue mission, Emilie’s captor makes a shocking escape into the abyss that lies beneath the city: the Las Vegas storm drains, a refuge for the downtrodden and the desperate.
HOW WILL IT END?
Who is the man the media has dubbed the “Taker?” Why is he after Emilie, and what is the connection he’s convinced they share?
Emilie can’t run from the Taker, and she can’t escape her own past. As her life closes in on her, she has nowhere to turn but to Nathan. The lines of professionalism blur as Nathan becomes determined to save Emilie. Together they venture into the depths beneath Las Vegas and discover a shocking piece of the puzzle.
But the Taker remains one step ahead. Desperate for the threat to emerge from the shadows, Emilie makes a bold move to reclaim her life, and it may cost her everything.
Thanks to Stacy Green, one lucky winner will receive a SIGNED print copy of Into the Dark and two lucky winners will receive an ebook copy of Into the Dark. Good luck to all who enter!
- No purchase necessary.
- Must be 18 years old or older to enter.
- Giveaway for the signed print copy open to US, Canada, UK, and Australia residents. Giveaway for the ebook copies open Internationally. Void where prohibited.
- Comments are appreciated, however, you must fill out the Rafflecopter form in order to enter this giveaway.
- Please read TBV's Giveaway Policy before entering.
- Giveaway ends 9:01 pm (Pacific Time) on 2/20/2013.