When I wrote The Miracle Man I'd not been to Las Vegas for nearly a quarter of a century so it was an interesting pilgrimage to see if I got the geography right...
We came into 'Sin City' on Highway 5, stopping off at Primm on the border to check that Josh and his parents could have called Jude from a diner with gaming machines. Yes, he could; it was there. So that was okay. Phew. No matter how much you research something, you won't get it all right unless you show up and do the walking.
Vegas itself is a real culture shock. If I had different astrology I'd probably have like it more to start with but it did grow on me over the five days that we were there. It didn't help that our hotel turned out to be a bit like Alcatraz in that the rooms are inside a border wall, probably for extra security. Perfectly fine inside though ... and three minutes from the Strip. Which is weird. So much fantasy in one place and, of course, gambling everywhere. And I mean everywhere, not only in the palaces and fake frontages of the hotels. In one food-and-gambling area there were games set up where you could try to throw ping-pong balls into half-full plastic cups of beer. And this wasn't just a one-off.
Before leaving the UK I'd contacted five radio stations about the book — no reply. However, I emailed them again the first afternoon and within hours one had come back to say 'yes please, drop a copy in and we'll see what we can do.' That was the one which had an online blog inviting comments on Sin City and the Nature of Evil so I was able to give them something to quote on air as well as asking for their assistance.
While we were there, we 'stalked' six stations and then headed out to the Hoover Dam and The Valley of Fire to see where Josh lost his Gemma and became transformed. Still looking forward to the radio stations' responses (one interview request came in the day after we left - thank God for Skype and the good old fashioned telephone!).
The dam is wonderful; still is. As the novel is fiction it takes place just a couple of days before the new by-pass bridge over the Colorado river was opened (the bridge was actually opened while we were out there - much earlier than scheduled - so how that's for timing?). It's fiction - in a parallel world - so not actually having the exact date in the book doesn't matter although it felt a bit odd. It was just amazing that we were there the exact week that it happened! And we were able to drive over the bridge as well as go across the dam.
And oh, the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas...and the wonderful inside Venice...and as for Cher, well I'll just quote my friend Michael: "She's going to look real good in the casket.'
I'll write more in another blog.