I’m getting to know Ames. Close to Iowa State’s football stadium is one of the largest public gardens in the state. With its butterfly wing and aquatic plants, the 14-acre Reiman Gardens might provide a place of solace for my character as he wrestles with his decision to attack. Or if he is a botanical student, he might do research there. Or the carillon might provide cover for sounds he wants no one to hear. I don’t know yet what role, if any, the gardens will have.
I’m an information gatherer. Regardless of what I write, I collect data. The Ames gardens, the nearest VA hospital, the layout of city streets. I don’t know what I will use until I have all the pieces. From these pieces, the place, the people, the plot and the purpose take shape. Each is a constantly shifting part of the mosaic. I discard and retrieve pieces, trying different combinations until they click. Ames, Iowa, is the first piece. Now, I need the city’s nuances and flavors, so that I could walk down the streets and feel like it’s home. It will be the current home of my American terrorist.