The Camera in Your Mind

By Elaine L. Orr

Or is it a digital player? 

I see images very clearly. Probably most writers do. But there is something about visiting a place in which you’ve set a book that makes it so much easier to write the next book in a series. Well, not easy, but at least more visually appealing as you write.

My family history series set in Garrett County, Maryland, takes place in the vicinity of Deep Creek Lake. For the first four books, the sleuth would occasionally drive across the lake. Her focus was more on the task at hand than the lake itself.

In the fifth book, Sleuth Digger Browning still lives in a mountain town, but more of the story is centered on the lake itself. I’ve done a lot of reading about the lake’s creation and its role in the economy.

After driving over and all around the lake at the end of May, I have 200 pictures in my brain. The visit also led me to sign up for the Deep Creek Times, a free newsletter about the area, which has beautiful photos. I just saved one so I can refer to it as I write a scene about a sunset over the lake.

Deep Creek Lake at Fort McHenry, MD

The photo of a dock at Fort McHenry, Maryland (at left) was one of the few I took of the lake itself. I have a (stupid) knee injury that is sufficiently annoying that I didn’t walk by the water much. I did take a short video of the scene so I can listen to the water lap at the boats.

I can vividly picture the lake from an overlook, and took many photos of the mountains among which the lake nestles.

Just as important as how a place looks is the people who populate it. Deep Creek Lake is a resort area, more so in the summer, but with skiing options in the winter. It might be the Appalachians rather than the Rockies, but you can still take a fast slide down a mountain.

To get a sense of the pople who live there, I spent time in the towns, such as Oakland (the county seat) and Accident, which is just off the Interstate. Tourists are great, but visits to the historical society, libraries, and small eateries give a better sense than watching sailboats on the lake.

Tentatively titled Long-Held Lake Secrets, the story today relates back to actions at about the time the lake was formed in the 1920s. Some secrets just can’t stay buried.

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