Shout Out to Hodgie’s and Markey’s

10/11/11 6:00 AM

So far, almost all of my published stuff is based in New England. My short stories “Orange Pineapple” and “Crush” are set on Cape Cod. Forgotten April is set outside of Boston. And then, there’s What Happened in Granite Creek.

Granite Creek is a fictional town in New Hampshire, but some of the places I mention in the novel are very real and dear to me, including two places in particular:

  1. Hodgie’s Ice Cream, which is in Amesbury, Mass., and home of the BEST ice cream I’ve ever had.
  2. Markey’s Lobster Pool, which is located on RT 286 in Seabrook, New Hampshire, as you head towards the beach. It’s a place I’ve frequented since I was a kid, and a place where I enjoyed eating fish and chips and steamers with my mom and grandmother and feeding French fries to the sea gulls that flocked on the outside balcony (something that’s no longer allowed now, though it was common practice back in the day when I was 10 in 1983).

I like including as much “real” local flavor as possible since setting is critical to most stories, often playing a character in its own right. By including real places, I make it that much more enjoyable and relatable to readers who’ve been there or who have been to some place similar. Plus, real places are easier to describe. If I were to tell you about Markey’s Lobster Pool, I wouldn’t need to fake it and make stuff up…I’d simply dial up my memory, or, even better, go on a road trip for “research.”  🙂

How ’bout you? Can you think of books you’ve read where the location played a critical role…and were you happy to learn some of it was real? Share in the comments.

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4 Comments on “Shout Out to Hodgie’s and Markey’s”

  1. Martin Dugas Says:

    Hum, I can’t think of a book I’ve read where the location played a critical role. But I have a question Robyn: when a writer chooses to include and describe a real place in his/her novel, say a restaurant, should he/she request some kind of permission from the establishment? I mean, it’s a form of free publicity (and I guess it’s good for the restaurant’s business), but can a writer get into trouble for doing so?

  2. Robyn Says:

    @Martin…the answer is “it depends” (and I’m not an attorney, so this isn’t legal advice). Both of the places I in this novel are mentioned in passing, and they bring up good memories for the character. But what if the memories weren’t so good? Hm. There could be potential problems.

    Here’s some further reading:
    http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2006/08/using-real-things-in-fictional-novels.html (Miss Snark was one of my favorite blogs back in the day; she was–and still is–a NYC literary agent…she closed down the blog a few years ago, but I believe she has reincarnated elsewhere.)

    http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=179674

    http://writersweekly.com/ask_the_expert/004318_10172007.html

  3. Don Kelley Says:

    Robert B. Parker and Dennis Lehane both use a lot of real Boston locations. Elmore Leonard does the same with places in both Florida and Detroit. That’s a key element in my enjoyment of their books.

    In one of the Spenser books a bad guy goes into Blue Ginger, the Ming Tsai restaurant in my home town of Wellesley. He orders chateaubriand and a champagne cocktail and the server explains that the menu leans more toward Pacific Rim. In another book there’s a scandal at what is obviously Wellesley College, but Parker changes the name to Pemberton. In the Jesse Stone books the town they call Paradise is clearly Marblehead.

    In the last Patrick Kenzie-Angie Gennaro novel by Lehane there a scene where Kenzie gets mugged at the JFK/UMass T station…the one I use when I take the train to work.

    In one of the Elmore Leonard books a guy is sent to the address 3000 South Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach. The exact address of a radio station where I used to work.

    So, yes, I agree that it adds an element of fun. I presume it’s okay to use real names as long as nothing bad is happening at that location.

  4. Robyn Says:

    Very cool, Don! Thanks for sharing. I bet all of those places welcomed being included in Lehane’s and Parker’s novels, considering how many they sell! 🙂