During my very first post to this blog, I had intended to talk about researching TRIPLE CROSS, but I got sidetracked with the Czech review. So, I thought I'd dive into that subject now.
First off, I never intended to write a "Derby" book. But, after I finished writing COLD BURN, the third book in the Steve Cline Mystery Series, I spent three months plotting and researching the next book only to have it rejected on synopsis. I was really behind schedule then and had to come up with a story idea fast. So, I looked at Steve's past and the people in his life, and a trip to Churchill Downs for the running of the Kentucky Derby was doable and logical since Steve's biological father is a racehorse trainer.
The next thing I did was get permission from Churchill Downs; then I began researching. Whether the book is set in Maryland or Pennsylvania or Kentucky, I love to write about real places, because I imagine that readers enjoy coming across a setting that they're familiar with in a book. The pressure is there to get it right, so I do a lot of research. One of my criteria for choosing a locale is the availability of good maps. Of course, Louisville being a major metropolitan area, that was no problem. I did stumble upon a cool, highly-manipulative aerial map of Louisville, where you can adjust the view from 700' all the way down to 35'. You can get close enough to make out lane markings on city streets. I almost felt as if I could look into windows with that feature.
During the research and plotting process, I did a great deal of Internet research before I ever had the chance to set foot on the backside of Churchill Downs or visit the town of Louisville, but once I had the chance to travel to Louisville, I took pictures of most of the places where I would later set scenes.
Here are several shots of Louisville's waterfront and the Belle of Louisville:
And of course, I had to visit the restaurants (and bars) that Steve visits in TRIPLE CROSS. Here's one of my favorites. The Bristol Bar and Grille located at 614 West Main Street. If you have the chance to visit, you have to try the Green Chili Won-Tons with guacamole. They are out of this world!
This striking Gallopalooza horse stands on the sidewalk outside the Bristol Bar and Grille. To view more Gallopalooza horses around Louisville, click here.
Some "horsey" art inside the Bristol.