One of the biggest perks an author gets is visiting the location where a novel is set. For Book Two in the Earth Hunters series, Created, I had to hunt for the perfect location. The plot required several special conditions for the setting:
- Plenty of room for a mysterious dinosaur-like creature to run around and cause trouble, yet stay hidden.
- A volcano and jungle close to each other so I could bring together my main characters, Paleontologist Travis Perego, and his love interest, Volcanologist Lenaia Talavera.
- Remote areas where it’s hard to use cell phones, and where poachers could get away with illegal activity.
- Someplace that my hubby and I would love to visit.
Costa Rica fit the bill for all of these.
My husband and I first spent several days at Volcano Arenal with it’s impressive dark cinder cone.
Hiking in this area was hot and steamy (I almost didn’t include this picture because of the hair), but it was worth it to spy on the local wildlife, including colorful birds, tree-hanging snakes and green eyed tree frogs.
After the volcano, we drove up the mountains on some of the scariest roads I’ve ever traversed—barely one and a half lanes of gravel, no shoulder with a drop off of a thousand feet, and yet somehow being passed by large tour buses. These roads could be the reason death by car accident ranks in the top 10 for causes of death in Costa Rica.
When my blood pressure returned to normal, we had reached the cooler temperatures in Monteverde Cloud Forest.
An amazingly verdant high-altitude forest, Monteverde truly is tropical jungle meets the clouds. Misty and thick, brimming with wildlife, I knew it was the perfect setting for Created. Travis and Lenaia would face every tropical menace running through the numerous peaks and valleys.
The only disappointment of our research trip was our failed mission to find Pocosol—the town that doesn’t exist, or at least we couldn’t find it. My husband and I spent hours traveling down a gravel road with sporadic signs for Pocosol. It should have been a small village close to the edge of the cloud forest. As we drove, the gravel on the road grew to quarter-sized chunks, then turned golf ball-sized. We finally had to stop when it grew to tennis-ball sized chunks. Our rented vehicle just couldn’t take climbing hills on that terrain. Although we never did find it, I’m still convinced it might exist. So, if you’ve been to Pocosol, Costa Rica, I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.
The trip to Costa Rica for Created was one of my favorite research trips. I can’t wait to go back again someday (maybe rent a four-wheeler to find Pocosol), but all of this real-life research had one goal—to leave you feeling like you’ve visited the volcano and the cloud forest. I hope that by the end you’re savoring the sun on your face and brushing the leaves out of your hair.
Photo Credits: All photos by Janice Boekhoff, except for the husband and wife volcano picture taken by the tour guide.