I had to do quite a bit of research on Whitefish, MT and Flathead Lake to write Training Season. While I’m sure I got some things wrong, and I know I stretched some of the timing to work the way I needed it to work, the power of the internet has made learning details about an area so much easier.
For example, Matty goes skating on Flathead Lake. I couldn’t have him near the biggest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, where the bays sometimes freeze over, in the middle of winter, without making him skate on it, now could I? But I haven’t been to Flathead County, much less skated on the lake, so I had no idea what that might be like. I did a google search, and lo and behold! Someone had posted to YouTube with a video of them skating on Flathead Lake! For real! And the comments had some awesome information that I really needed to make sure the scene I was writing was feasible and correctly described!
Quotes from the comments:
Em Powers said: “What you can’t see because the I’m skating by it too fast, is that the cracks in the ice show that it is about a foot thick. There were lots of ice fisherman out that day too. It has to be pretty cold for a long amount of time (or really cold for awhile) and there can’t be wind which kicks up waves, or snow or sleet during the crucial time when the ice is forming. That makes bumps in the ice and then it’s impossible to skate on. If we get to skate on it every three years, we’re lucky. There might be some bays where it’s always smooth when it freezes, but I’m not familiar with them. It doesn’t always freeze over, but it is not uncommon. It’s pretty big (30 miles long by 16 miles wide) so sometimes it isn’t completely frozen. The year I took the video (2007), there was a lot of very cold weather and little wind, which makes for a nice smooth surface on which to skate.”
In addition, I found this great video of the drive to Flathead Lake, which allowed me to have a good idea of what it is like to drive around in that area of Montana. I’m pretty sure most people wouldn’t find this video all that fascinating, but, man, this was a lifesaver to me! Thank you, Pat, for posting this!
How did writers actually write before the internet? It beats me! Thank God for it!